Kitty & her Chow Chows

I have always been interested in my family history, particularly my great-grandmother and namesake Kitty, and before I learnt how to find censuses and official records last year, I used to occasionally google Kitty’s name to see what I could find. A few years ago I discovered that the website had some wonderful pictures of her, in connection with her very successful career as a breeder of chow chows. I recently decided to share some of my family photos of Kitty, her sons and the dogs, with Sandra of, to say thank you for preserving and sharing a part of my family history.

You can read the wonderful post Sandra wrote about Kitty, (who bred her dogs under her married name of Mrs Bernard Cuthbert) here. Sandra has shared some wonderful articles about Kitty which have given me a lot of insight in Kitty’s life and career, including the first article about her (that I’m aware of) from 1927. She began breeding dogs from her home in Catford, London, and when the family moved to Canvey Island in 1933, they took their business with them and continued to have great success there. I was particularly moved to see this article from Sandra’s collection:

My great-grandfather Bernard Cuthbert was killed in an accident in 1958 and his death was a great shock to Kitty. They had been married 47 years, since she was 16, and had always had a very strong and close relationship. I’m lucky enough to have in my possession many handwritten letters from him to her, which show how devoted he was to her and how much he loved her, but nothing written by Kitty herself. So to see her own words here, about the effect the death of her husband had on her, means a lot to me.

Unlike his wife, Bernard seems to have been rather camera-shy, so I don’t have many photos of him. However I do have this lovely photo of the two of them at their son Don’s wedding in the summer of 1953.

1958 was not a good year for poor Kitty. Although it was the year that her first grandchild (my mum) was born, it was also the year of several deaths: her husband, her mother, and two of her sisters-in-law with whom she had been close. I’m glad to know that as well as her loyal son and beloved grandchild, she also had her treasured dogs around her to comfort her, as well as receiving many kind of letters of support from friends and clients.

So thank you, Sandra of, for providing such valuable context for my family’s history!

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