Pets from our Past

We all love our pets.

Whether they have fins, legs, wings, or hooves, we love them all the same and enjoy their company regardless of how often we have to clean up after them.

Scattered throughout the Ashburton Museum photograph collection are a surprising number of pictures of people with their animal companions, which I often come across by accident while chasing up research requests.

Photographs of past Ashburtonians and their pets gives us an insight into their taste and ideas, sometimes giving us a glimpse at how certain breeds of domestic animal have changed over time.

These images also add another layer to the degree of personality we impose on figures from our past – often we read about their lives and see their photographs, but knowing the type of pets they kept and actually seeing this adds an extra shade of humanity to our picture of their lives.

Such photographs never fail to brighten up my day a bit, and so I thought that this week I would share some examples with you, which will hopefully brighten up yours, too.

By Connor Lysaght

This article was modified for this blog and was originally published in the Ashburton Guardian, 16th of June 2020.


  1. The Taylor family milking cows at Huntingdon about 1922. Dorothy can be seen holding her feline friend at the very left of the frame.
  2. Moorhouse and Peter families at Shepherd’s Bush, 1885. Two ladies in this photo are holding their cute wee lambs, and one to the left is holding a cat.
  3. Group of men skating in the Ashburton Domain, 1895, featuring one very happy dog giving it a go.
  4. J. W. Butterick with his dog Flora Mcdonald, undated.
  5. Captain Dolman and one very good dog. Dolman was curator of the fire brigade in the 1930s, and lived at the brigade premises on Burnett Street.
  6. A tramping group with their canine friend, taken in the 1930s. One could wonder whether this dog helped them find their way home.

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