Definitely NOT The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
New York – Taking a break from soliciting support for the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation, “Koko” the poodle pauses for a cigarette. January 17, 1952 photo: Maurey Garber / New York Journal American
The Westminster Kennel Club just had its dog show in New York and smoking was not one of the activities that the dogs were judged upon.
Well times certainly change. How and where exactly the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation used Koko to raise awareness of arthritis is not explained in this news photograph, beyond the simple caption attached to the photo. I couldn’t help being drawn to the unnamed dowager lighting up for Koko. That black outfit with the veil and her fake smile can give you the creeps.
Humans still use dogs to promote charitable causes. But the idea of a dog needing a cigarette break seems somewhat bizarre today.
I’m sure the members of PETA would be furious if a stunt like this was pulled now. Realize however in 1952 smoking cigarettes was de rigueur. According to a one study in the U.S. 57% of men and 26% of women smoked; in the U.K. it was closer to 80% of all adults who lit up.
So why is this photograph not so unusual? Though not officially compiled by any government agency, the smoking stats were similar for dogs as well, with around four out of every ten dogs smoking. Especially French Poodles who are notorious chain smokers.