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In my many books about Long Beach, I’ve tried to keep history alive by telling true stories about interesting people and events. Some historic tidbits I just haven’t been able to segue into the narrative, let me change that now. Let’s forget about the Coronavirus for a while and escape into the past as I share some interesting stories about man’s best friend – dogs.
Bert Paul’s spotted pointer was arrested February 27, 1911, for stealing eggs. He was taken to the city jail, where he was consigned to the “crazy cell” by policemen who could think of no more appropriate place for a canine caught sucking eggs.
The dog’s problem was twofold–his love of eggs and lack of a home. Bert Paul refused to claim any responsibility for the dog’s actions—he had tossed the dog out of the house and told him to go away. Could an animal simply be abandoned and left on its own? That was the question city officials had to ponder. Owners of dogs were held responsible for their acts, and in the event of a death of the animal, owners had to pay for their removal to animal heaven (i.e. the city dump). Since Mr. Paul had paid for a license for the pointer, didn’t that legally entail ownership AND responsibility? Paul said “no,” city officials said “yes.” A legal matter of lasting proportions had now been settled—if you had a dog you didn’t want anymore, you had to make arrangements for its elimination in a legal manner. (Long Beach Press 2/28/1911)
In May 1909, young police sergeant Fred Kutz confided to City Auditor Ira Hatch why his hair had turned suddenly turned gray. Two years earlier City Marshal George Young decided to clean up the number of unlicensed dogs in the city and hired a dogcatcher named Vacher, whose only aim in life was to capture dogs at $1 ($30 today) per head. He was a mean old cuss and Kutz, who was desk sergeant at the time, received numerous calls from hysterical women about the hard heartedness of the official dog catcher. Vacher ignored their pleas, simply stating that the ordinance had to be enforced and that the dogs could be redeemed by paying the pound fee and taking out a license. Soon things got even worse; Kutz began to receive visits from these angry females, who cried out how Vacher had abducted their pet. As a result, Kutz’s hair began to turn gray. But despite it all the sergeant was somewhat proud of the fact that the fund for dog licenses that first year amounted to over $600 ($17,560 today). (Daily Telegram 5/15/1909).
Toodles, the poodle, committed suicide, her owner Claude Reusch told friends. She was killed in almost the exact spot where her three-weeks-old puppy met a similar fate. Reusch declared she deliberately threw herself under the wheels of a passing automobile. Could his story be believed? Well, Reusch was a Long Beach policeman. (Los Angeles Times 5/12/1921)
Risking his own life to save that of a friend, “Teddy” Walton, a Scotch collie jumped from the Pine avenue pier and swam to the rescue of “King,” a gigantic angora cat that had fallen overboard. Just as the feline was sinking for the third time, the big collie grasped the cat by the scruff of the neck. Fortunately Captain Claude Walton, Teddy’s owner hauled the two animals onto the pier while an excited crowd looked on.
King, a coal black angora cat, had been visiting the pier daily for about a month. After the first few days, King and Teddy became good friends and enjoyed playing together. On August 22, 1914, King came bounding along the pier ready for his morning constitutional with his playmate. Teddy was ready and the fun began as the two rolled and tumbled and chased each other all over the outer end of the pier. In a moment of over enthusiasm Teddy gave the cat a hard blow and the animal fell off the pier into the water, uttering a frightful feline screech as he fell. Teddy stood wondering what had happened while his captain owner watched the struggling cat who was trying to place its claws into a small block of wood that had just floated by. As the dog kept eyeing his master, the captain spoke up, “go get him Ted.” Soon a flying streak struck the water and after a few moments swim, the cat was safe in the jaws of Ted.
Since coming to Long Beach Ted had been the pet of the boatmen, making frequent trips on the boats to Catalina and San Pedro. So popular was Ted that he had a pass on all boats leaving from Long Beach. (Daily Telegram 8/22/1914)
Although a “spinster” in the dog kingdom, Smut, the Irish terrier belonging to the J.F. Walker family of 1842 E. Anaheim Street, had maternal instincts that just would not go away. The dog had proved her mothering instincts by bringing up five orphaned kittens, nursing them, washing them and guarding them from harm the same as if they had been her own.
Smut and the mother cat had been raised together and were devoted companions. After the five kittens were added to the family circle, the dog assumed an equal share in their care. When the cat was out of the box, where the kittens were kept, Smut got in and mothered them. The kittens nursed the dog the same as they did their mother and by an unusual but not unknown freak of nature, the little dog had milk for them.
Sadly, when the kittens were two weeks old the mother cat died. From that moment on the dog assumed full charge of the kittens. No one but the immediate family dared come near the box where they lay. When they wobbled about on uncertain legs, the dog followed them; licking them when they mewed and carrying them back to the box in her mouth when they strayed too far from home.
Thinking the care of five kittens would be too much for the dog, the Walker family gave three of them away, but Smut hunted all over the neighborhood for them but finally gave up the search and devoted herself to the remaining two. Smut kept all other dogs and cats off the premises and even when in the box with the kittens, no one but the family could go near her. When the kittens began to wander on their own, the dog would stay nearby to make sure they didn’t get into any trouble. Mrs. Walker told the press that the kittens and dog played continually and were more devoted than the average cat and her kittens. (Press Telegram 8/27/1927)
Smut wasn’t the only terrier with a motherly instinct. In 1912, a most amazing family group appeared at the door of Mrs. D.M. Magill of 430 Magnolia Avenue. The “family” consisted of a female fox terrier and eleven tiny baby chicks. The dog had mothered the chicklets ever since they had been removed from their incubator. When the chicks were placed in a box the dog stepped carefully into the box, gently gathering the chicks close around her. The terrier would then lay down, stretching her legs out against the opposite side of the box so the chicks could not wander.
The dog took jealous care of the diminutive poultry. She licked them, just as she would her own puppies and always looked out for their welfare. If the little chicks escaped from the box the dog would leap out and try to lift them back in. Once the dog tried to lift one of the chicks into the box by taking hold of it with her teeth, but she could not safely get a good grasp on the tiny, fluffy thing. She quickly learned not to try that method. If anyone tried to take the chickens out of the box, the dog would growl and show her teeth in anger. Mrs. Magill considered this the strangest case of animal affection she has ever heard about. When the motherly dog walked across the yard, followed by 11 adopted babies, the spectacle was indeed something to behold. (Daily Telegram 5/29/1912)
Mrs. Horace Rapley had just laid a money order she received on a table when a breeze from an open door carried it outside. Her neighbor’s puppy immediately grabbed the piece of paper and disappeared with it under the house. She and the neighbor children tried everything to try to get the puppy to come out, but he refused to budge. When she began to hear a ripping sound she panicked. She could call the police, but realizing they wouldn’t fit in the crawl space, she called a carpenter who lived a few doors away. He brought his hatchet and saw. The carpet in the sitting room was torn up, and a large hole was sawed in the floor, directly over the point where the dog had been located. The money order was found in a large hole that had been scratched out by the little dog and was unharmed. The mystery of the disappearance of several other valuables was also cleared up, because they were also found in the dog’s secrete cache. Among the items found was a pair of new shoes which had disappeared two months earlier, a costly sterling silver backed clothes brush, a small silk coat, and several other objects. Mrs. Rapley was amazed at the find, and a little embarrassed, too. She believed the articles had been stolen by a burglar and reported the case to the police several weeks earlier. (Daily Telegram 8/9/1910)