Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The 51 Preserved Dogs of Castle Bitov, Czech Republic

They can sit and stay – and are excellent at playing dead – but this room full of obedient dogs will never go walkies again. The odd-ball collection of 51 stuffed dogs is the star attraction at the picturesque Castle Bitov in the Czech Republic.

The castle’s last owner, the ever-so-slightly eccentric Baron Georg Haas, was an animal lover – to say the least. He was the proud owner of thousands of animals – including a lioness called Mietzi-Mausi, with whom it is said he enjoyed sharing lunch every day.

But his favourite style of four-legged friend was the humble canine, and he eventually had more than 200 in the castle grounds. It means the castle might well have been the hardest building to sneak into in the 1940s – certainly the hardest to walk around without looking down.

When the playful pets passed away, the baron buried the majority of them – their final resting places can still be seen in several cemeteries in the castle grounds, each with a wooden cross and small metal plate bearing their name.

But, for a select few, the baron had loftier plans – and the handiwork of the local taxidermist is still being enjoyed today. It’s clear that the baron did not play favourites. Spaniels, terriers, poodles, boxers – hounds of every shape and size – are included in the collection...

Georg Haas was as eccentric an aristocrat as they come. But he was also ahead of his time, designing a magnificent zoo for his animals, with terrariums, bird cages, and various paddocks that he filled with exotic creatures from around the world.

--"The perfectly preserved pooches of Castle Bitov," The Daily Mail, July 19th 2011
You can read the whole entire story--from which the above images were drawn--by clicking here. Click on images to see much larger, more detailed version.

Thanks to Eleanor Crook for bringing this to my attention!

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