The eighteenth century was when pet-keeping went mainstream. The first recognizable pet shops were set up, the first missing dog ads appeared in the newspapers. Over the course of the century, pet-keeping went from being seen as a sign of extravagance, sometimes even sinfulness, to being accepted, even celebrated as wholesome and desirable. But the transition, as you’ll hear in this interview, wasn’t always easy and it raised a host of anxieties about race, gender, slavery, sexuality, liberty and our place in nature.
My guest this week is Ingrid Tague, who is professor of history at the University of Denver. Her most recent book, Animal Companions: Pets and Social Change in Eighteenth-Century Britain, is out this month in paperback from Penn State University Press.