Puppy Love: Domestic Science, ‘Women’s Work,’ and Canine Care.

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Abstract

This article shows that pets became significant objects of medical and scientific concern during the first decades of the twentieth century. Addressing the case of dogs, it contends that this circumstance was not primarily a consequence of developments internal to veterinary practice, but rather emerged from the broader-based domestic science movement. The elaboration of scientifically-oriented approaches to dog care signals the incorporation of pets within a maternal ideal that emphasised care and efficiency as domestic virtues. Via consideration of canine milk foods, women-led canine medical institutions, canine-concerned domestic workers, and rationalist approaches to kennel design, it demonstrates that dogs should be placed alongside such established objects of domestic scientific reform as children, homes, and individual human bodies. Moreover, it shows that this re-conceptualization of dogs relied on an extensive network of (primarily women) labourers that included food producers, nursing staff, kennel attendants, owners, and breeders. The article thereby contributes to a growing body of scholarship highlighting the extent to which the domestic science movement helped forge new scientific objects and practices around the turn of the twentieth century. By the 1930s, dogs were being upheld as exemplars of the kinds of homely existence made possible by scientifically-informed approaches to domestic living.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289–314
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of British Studies
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019