“I think his strongest love, among animals, was for dogs.” Mamie Dickens

Dickens's house at Gad's-hill. Note the dog.

Dickens’s house at Gad’s-hill. Note the dog.

At Gad’s-Hill Dickens surrounded himself with a pack of wonderful dogs. Two were usually tied to either side of the entrance gate to protect the house from the ruffians and vagabonds that tramped down the well-traveled road.

Charles Dickens and Turk

Charles Dickens and Turk

Turk, intelligent and affectionate, was Dickens’s favorite. In this wonderful photograph they appear well matched. Both look noble and dignified. Dickens grieved terribly when Turk died in a railway accident, not long after Dickens’s own traumatic experience in a railway crash at Staplehurst in 1865.

This is Governor, a 19th century mastiff.

This is Governor, a 19th century mastiff.

Mamie called Turk a “beautiful mastiff, ” but he doesn’t look like the mastiffs shown in 19th century illustrations. Libby Hall, in her wonderful collection of vintage dog photos, These Were Our Dogs, identifies Turk as simply, “a dog.” Can anyone solve the mystery?

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