The Canine Paradox - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The American Treasure Tour has many little hidden wonders within our massive collection, which makes it fun to come through repeatedly.  One of our favorite oddities is a somewhat incongruous newspaper ad located right next to the entrance inside the Toy Box advertising Professor Norris' Canine Paradox.  If you have ever heard someone talk about a "dog and pony show," describing an over-produced event intended to sway opinion, like say a political debate where everyone talks a lot but doesn't actually say anything, it originated with a quite literal event with dogs - and ponies - doing wonderful things.

Professor Charles (or Clarence?) Norris established his first dog show in 1888, when he was 23 years old.  The Paradox incorporated twenty-five dogs, with the celebrity act being that of Fritz, "King of Dogs," who could perform fifty-six different tricks, and could even tell the time of day! Every child who attended a performance received their very own autograph from Fritz!  

Norris and his dogs traveled throughout the United States and Canada during the late-19th century - we have found records of him appearing in New York City (1888), Provo, Utah (1889) and London, Ontario (1894) - before joining up with Hutton Rowe to create the Norris and Rowe Trained Animal Show, which traveled on three train cars. The show did well for a number of years, but started to suffer early in the 20th century. A train wreck in 1906 caused the death of a number of trained seals, then, during a 1909 show in Princeton, Indiana, their canvas tent collapsed on a crowd that had to destroy it to cut their way to freedom.  By the time of its closure in 1910, there were reports of a morally dubious 'girlie' show that indicates it had lost its young audience.  All of its assets were sold off at auction to cover its debts.  But what an experience it must have been in its heyday!  
QUESTION:  The love people have for dogs has existed since long before recorded history. Our first president, George Washington, had a number of dogs at his Mount Vernon estate.  Which was NOT one of his dogs?
A)  Vulcan
B)  Sweetlips
C)  Madame Moose
D)  Lobo

IS THAT BAD?!  Ronald Reagan is hailed as one of America's most popular presidents, and his time in office is looked upon by Republicans today as one of the greatest eras in modern history.  His charm and magnetism cannot be questioned; however, his administration's decision to sell weapons to the Iranian government so that profits could be diverted to assist rebels in Nicaragua can be considered somewhat dubious.  It was on this day in 1986 that details for what would be known as the Iran-Contra Affair were presented to the public by U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese.  

IT'S PERCY DAY.  You may think the name Percy Sledge is too cool to be real, but it is in fact the given name of today's birthday celebrity.  Sledge was born in 1940 and grew up in rural, segregated Alabama.  He was only twenty-six when he recorded his now-iconic ballad "When a Man Loves a Woman," which will forever be his legacy.  He continued to sing until his death this past April at the age of 74.

QUOTE:  I keep my feet on the ground because of my roots and the way I was raided. - Percy Sledge

ANSWER:  D)  Lobo.