Masterpiece the Poodle - A high society canine mystery
The Linda Evangelista of the Canine World
What three things does a girl dream of when she makes it big?
Well according to a journalist in the 1950s it was, “Gems, minks and poodles!”. This week’s #historichound is the glamourous silver-grey toy poodle named Masterpiece. Poodles were the 'breed-de-jour' of 1950s, and Hollywood actresses would even get their hair styled to emulate these intelligent pets.
Masterpiece belonged to a Russian Count named Pulaski and was quite arguably one of the history’s most pampered pooches. Masterpiece lived a life that many of us could never even dream of. Besides travelling to Cuba as a goodwill ambassador, being personally invited to attend fashion week en Paris and modelling alongside some of society’s most beautiful models, Masterpiece was often the guest of honour at the ritziest events in New York society. The 8-pound toy poodle also earned more money than most of the models he worked alongside, reportedly earning $11,000 USD a year back in the 1950s which when you adjust for inflation is over $100,000 today.
Masterpiece was trained by the lion tamer from the Bronx Zoo, and his owner’s favourite trick will make you laugh; Pulaski would ask Masterpiece, “Are you a communist?” and Masterpiece would shake his head.
What makes Masterpiece stand out from other high society poodles of his time was the mystery surrounding his disappearance or dognapping. (Fun fact apparently poodles were the most commonly stolen breed at the time). Masterpiece was kidnapped from Poodles Inc. which was an exclusive poodle salon and boutique one afternoon in May 1953 and was never heard of or seen again. His disappearance devastated his owner and mystifyed law enforcement across the United States. If you want to learn more about Masterpiece and his high-society life I invite you to check out this episode of, This is Criminal.