Hi, I’m Wheels, a Boston terrier. I am also a special contributor to BubbleLife.com.
I took a short road trip over the Thanksgiving holiday and visited the Antiquibles Mall and Dog Museum in Elm Mott, Texas. I want to share my adventure with you.
Just off Interstate 35, right before you get to Waco, there are several antique stores sprinkled along the highway. Located in huge buildings, they are referred to as “antique malls.” What makes this particular store special is that owners, David and Barbara Hays, have devoted the back half of the building to a dog museum where they display a unique collection of dog art in the form of paintings and ceramics.
I was traveling with my owner, her sister and my cousin, Nick, a Yorkshire terrier. Let me clarify—Nick is not my biological cousin, but rather, my adopted cousin. I am a Boston terrier—a totally different breed from the Yorkshire terrier, but Nick and I get along swimmingly.
When we arrived at the museum, we were greeted by a very gracious couple who seemed happy to see us. The man immediately offered me a cart padded with a blanket so I could ride through the museum, taking notes, in style.
Passing through the aisles toward the area that housed the dog collection, there were glass-enclosed shelves and free-standing cabinets known as “curios” throughout the building. They were filled with all sorts of paraphernalia—items my owner referred to as “retro or vintage,” meaning they were popular during the 40s, 50s, 60s and even 70s, but not so much today.
Sure enough, when we arrived at the museum area of the mall, there were dogs everywhere. There were dogs in all shapes, colors and sizes, with long coats, short coats, straight coats and curly coats. There were herders, workers and sporting dogs.
The famous terrier, Nipper, who posed for the painting “His Master’s Voice” and later became the star of an ad for the RCA Victrola, appeared again and again in various objects of art. We had already seen him on the exterior of the building when we first drove up.
Nipper, pictured with the gramophone, is sort of a mascot for dog memorabilia.
Another famous reminder of the retro and vintage era was the TV show, "Lassie." We found an early poster of America’s beloved boy and his dog, Timmy and Lassie.
In addition to terriers and collies, there were hounds, shepherds, spaniels—every breed imaginable. However, some breeds were more plentiful than others. Why? That is likely due to the popularity of the breed, during a particular period in history.
For instance, there were poodles everywhere. The national dog of France, the French Poodle craze took over America in the 1950s. The breed of choice of many movie stars, the poodle—with its defined bouffant—was the epitome of wealth and glamour. People wore poodle skirts and sported a short, curly hair-do known as the poodle cut.
A highly intelligent, loving and loyal breed, the poodle remained a favorite house pet of many, and the number of knick knacks made in its image proves it.
Another breed of dog that was significantly displayed throughout the museum is one dear to my heart—the Boston terrier. Caricatures of little black and white dogs resembling me were found in the form of everything from door stops to cigarette lighters. Why me? During the height of my breed’s popularity, the Boston terrier was the most popular breed of dog in America.
The Boston, known as The American Gentleman and often said to be wearing a tuxedo, was the first American breed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club. Our round heads and bulging eyes make us great models for cartoon sculptures and drawings. So there I was, grinning, begging, and even smoking a cigar.
The museum opened in 1997. When asked what prompted a dog museum, Barbara Hays said that she and her husband, always dog lovers, began collecting dog ceramics and paintings, eventually coming to own a small collection. “But it was not until the death of actor Ron Howard’s aunt that we purchased her 8000-piece collection and began the museum,” Hays added. It is now the largest museum of dog collectibles in the world.
The next time you are looking for an entertaining outing with a fairly short drive from Dallas, visit the dog museum. It’s free and open daily, except holidays. Look for the sign with the dogs on top. Tell them Wheels sent you.
Wheels is a five-year-old Boston terrier from Grant’s Pass, Oregon. He trained and worked hard with his owner and handlers to achieve his AKC championship in conformation. His registered name is Ch. Sunglo’s Cruisin’ in a Tuxedo.