Canine Trailblazers: Dogs in Exploration Opens at Kennel Club Gallery

A new exhibition celebrating the dogs involved in some of the most famous explorations of the last three centuries will open at the Kennel Club Gallery in Mayfair on Friday 2nd September. The display of artwork, photography and other items of interest will be on display until 13th January 2017.

‘Canine Trailblazers: Dogs in Exploration’ begins with Captain James Cook’s pioneering voyage, walks through the adventures of American explorers Lewis and Clark and takes a detour to the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration before landing with the canine cosmonauts of the Soviet Space Race.

The exhibition features items on loan from prestigious institutions including the Royal Geographical Society and the Scott Polar Research Institute, as well as articles from individual lenders. Items from the Kennel Club’s own collection will be displayed alongside these loaned pieces to provide an insight into the types of dogs brought along on expedition and act as focal points for examining the history of canine involvement in exploration.

Among the fascinating artefacts there will be paintings by Vernon Stokes and FT Daws, photographs of canine space explorer suits from the James Moores Collection and a full size Arctic sled.

The canine contribution to the field of exploration has been a significant one and the scientific discoveries that have been made as a result of these expeditions by man and his best friend should not be underestimated.

Many individual dogs will be celebrated, including a Greyhound who accompanied botanist Sir Joseph Banks on his first voyage with Captain Cook – Sir Joseph also worked closely with artist George Stubbs on the first representation of the dingo, and a copy of this important painting will be displayed during the exhibition with permission from the National Maritime Museum.

Other dogs of note are Mabel, the Bull Terrier who accompanied the body of Dr David Livingstone from Africa back to Britain in 1873 – the puppy travelled more than 1,500 miles by land and 15,000 miles by sea before turning one year old – and the dogs who joined Captains Scott and Shackleton for their polar explorations. These expeditions were some of the most celebrated adventures of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration and visitors to the exhibition will be able to view many images from the voyages.

One of the most intriguing highlights will be an album of photographs discovered in the Sahara Desert shortly after the Second World War that details a secret Italian survey of the area, in which the commanding officer was accompanied by his terrier throughout the covert mission.