Did Your Ancestor Have a Pet? | The Armchair Genealogist
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Did Your Ancestor Have a Pet?

I hadn’t given it much thought, our ancestor’s pets. Not until about a month ago when we lost our dog. Koda was 12 years old, a chocolate lab and he was such an important part of our family. I knew it would be a difficult day, but I had no idea just how hard it was going to be. I honestly can say there is a huge void in our home. I miss him dearly; I miss his companionship but most of all I miss his personality.

The loss of our dog got me thinking about our ancestor’s pets. I can’t say my ancestor had any pets, a least they aren’t included in pictures.  But people being people I would suspect that pets were an important part of our ancestor’s lives just as much as they are today. I would, however, suggest, that today we probably memorialize our pets much more than our ancestors did and our descendants will likely have a better knowledge of our pets and their importance in our lives.

Today you can bury your pet in a pet cemetery, thereby leaving a marker for your descendants to find. You can honour them in social media, make picture books about them, and I believe they have probably made their way into more of our photos then in our ancestor's day.  Oh, and let’s not forget the millions of videos of our pets on YouTube.  Our pets will live on thanks to today's technology.

How Pets Help Our Research

But let's get back to our ancestors and their pets. Our first source would naturally be pictures, and hopefully, your photos are labeled. Why would it be important to know if your ancestor had pets? Well, first it is one more element that helps us but their life in context, it brings out a human element, to an ancestor we never met, it is one more piece in helping understand who they were. From a pure research standpoint, dogs often needed a license which means there is a record and where you find the dog you locate the owner. Dogs licenses are a record that can be one more piece of the puzzle in your family history research.

Finding A Pet Online

If you have Irish ancestors, a dog license may be the breakthrough you need. Ireland started issuing dog licenses in 1866. There are over 6 million dog licenses in a database on FindMyPast. They can place your ancestor at an address in a particular year along with the breed, sex, and colour of their dog.

Have you ever searched for dog licenses to help with a brick wall?

Do you have any stories about your ancestor’s pets? Any pictures? Do you know their names?