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Working Like a Dog: The Question of Urban Dog Labor in 19th-Century America

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Abstract:

This paper explores the role of dog labor in nineteenth-century America—looking, specifically, at emerging practices and regulations in New York City.

Dog labor developed in interesting and unusual ways in the nineteenth-century U.S. Dog machines (churns and presses) presented unique energy advantages and became commonplace features in rural production and in cramped city spaces alike. Additionally, New York City’s class of immigrant “ragpickers” (most notably, those identified as being of German descent) used dogs to pull their carts.

This paper examines the unexplored convergence of the evolution of dog labor and animal welfare, which collided in the second half of the nineteenth century. I look, in particular, at cases in New York City. In the 1860s and 1870s, organizations like the nascent Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sought to remake human relationships with dogs, effectively narrowing the range of roles dogs played in everyday life. In so doing, the SPCA privileged the dog as a pet—a “creature of leisure”—while actively regulating and limiting dogs as work animals in American cities. Over the course of a few years, the SPCA created and enforced new rules related to dog labor in cities. What resulted was a legal and cultural remaking of the very definition of a dog, and a stricter delineation of the human-dog relationship.

Behind these debates and regulations were underlying social relationships and tensions, which I examine. To what extent were new rules on dog labor actually regulating interpersonal relationships? What were the class, ethnic, and transnational dimensions that operated beneath the surface of these historical developments? How did dog labor fit into a larger evolving conversation about human labor? How do the specific cases discussed in this paper help explain the larger transformation of the role of dogs in America?
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170788_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Robichaud, Andrew. "Working Like a Dog: The Question of Urban Dog Labor in 19th-Century America" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170788_index.html>

APA Citation:

Robichaud, A. "Working Like a Dog: The Question of Urban Dog Labor in 19th-Century America" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170788_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: This paper explores the role of dog labor in nineteenth-century America—looking, specifically, at emerging practices and regulations in New York City.

Dog labor developed in interesting and unusual ways in the nineteenth-century U.S. Dog machines (churns and presses) presented unique energy advantages and became commonplace features in rural production and in cramped city spaces alike. Additionally, New York City’s class of immigrant “ragpickers” (most notably, those identified as being of German descent) used dogs to pull their carts.

This paper examines the unexplored convergence of the evolution of dog labor and animal welfare, which collided in the second half of the nineteenth century. I look, in particular, at cases in New York City. In the 1860s and 1870s, organizations like the nascent Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sought to remake human relationships with dogs, effectively narrowing the range of roles dogs played in everyday life. In so doing, the SPCA privileged the dog as a pet—a “creature of leisure”—while actively regulating and limiting dogs as work animals in American cities. Over the course of a few years, the SPCA created and enforced new rules related to dog labor in cities. What resulted was a legal and cultural remaking of the very definition of a dog, and a stricter delineation of the human-dog relationship.

Behind these debates and regulations were underlying social relationships and tensions, which I examine. To what extent were new rules on dog labor actually regulating interpersonal relationships? What were the class, ethnic, and transnational dimensions that operated beneath the surface of these historical developments? How did dog labor fit into a larger evolving conversation about human labor? How do the specific cases discussed in this paper help explain the larger transformation of the role of dogs in America?


 
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