Dogs and newspapers have an ambivalent relationship. Dogs fetch papers, but cannot read them. Dogs are often whapped with newspapers, and are usually uncertain why. Dogs are often posed in unnatural ways for the amusement of newspapers, and - well, come to think of it, dogs and newspapers have a fairly straightforward relationship: Bad.

Still, we love our dogs, and nothing livens up a dog-lover’s day like an amusing dog photo in the paper. But fewer and fewer dogs appear in our daily journals nowadays. A picture of a dog on a bike serves no social purpose; it does not demonstrate a newspaper’s Commitment to the Community. Goodbye dogs on bikes; hello uplifting photo of new immigrants eating a hot dog on the Fourth. Goodbye dogs smoking pipes and drinking beer; hello teens at an anti-tobacco rally.

Do dogs miss their days as the comic relief of papers? Of course not. They haven't a clue. But was fun while it lasted. You can do these things with dogs, because they're expressive, pliable, and agreeable; they're natural comic actors. The paper's archives have a few cat photos, but the cats aren't doing anything. Cats do not have the range of expressions dogs have, nor are they particularly interested in serving us. There are no folders marked CATS-HEROES or CATS-MILITARY. This does not argue for the superiority or inferiority of either; I'm not going to get into that debate here. But just because dogs happily assisted the construction of these peculiar tableaus doesn't mean they're idiots. It simply means they enjoyed playing along. It's the dog credo: let's do something.

As you will see, newspaper dog photography was for years the last resort of the hack and the flack, the assignment no one wanted, the crap job handed out to the guys who could barely be trusted to take off the lens cap. Put yourself in a photog’s shoes. Imagine how you’d feel when the President’s in town; you’re handed the assignment slip and see the words: Terrier had 11 puppies. Get pictures.

Perhaps that explains some of these pictures; perhaps they were souped in a bitter mixture of chemicals, frustration. Maybe not. I do know that newspapers no longer pretend dogs are just hairy stupid humans; we no longer make them sing or smoke for the entertainment of subscribers. I offer this site as an apology to all dogs on behalf of newspapers.

Sorry. We needed to fill the paper, and you were handy. It’ll never happen again.