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"Wiener Dog Art"

Created by Gary Larson - The Far Side

  Wiener Cave
Cave Art

Location: Southern France  c. 15,000 BC

In 1909, paleontologist Arnold Zimmerman stumbled across this Paleolithic cave painting in southern France. It is undoubtedly the earliest known form of wiener dog art, estimated to be around 17,000 years old. The drawing is a clear depiction of Weenus giganticus, commonly known as the woolly wiener dog -- a creature that according to Professor Zimmerman, "must have struck utter terror in the hearts of primitive mail carriers." Zimmerman's discovery ultimately brought him only grief, as other scientists began to question the legitimacy of this cave painting. (Special but inconclusive tests indicated the actual "paint" contained chemicals closely akin to a Magic Marker.) The controversy eventually ebbed, and Zimmerman moved on in his career to become a staunch supporter of Piltdownman.



Artist: Samuel J. Sullivan
28 x 2, oil on canvas  1896

In the latter part of the nineteenth century,wiener dogs were brought West in great herds by the backing of wealthy "wiener barons." These drives were occasionally enormous in scale, sometimes consisting of well over half a billion animals. There were two major routes (or "Wiener Trails") across the country, one starting in Boston and ending in San Francisco, the other starting in Chicago, circling that city several times (for greater momentum), dropping down to Dallas, back to Chicago (usually an error), down into New Mexico, and ending in what was then called Wienerville, Arizona (now an uninhabited area but renowned for its rich topsoil).

The artist, Samuel J. Sullivan, was still a young man in 1878 when he joined one of these expeditions, and here we see one of his action filled paintings which captures a wienerboy at work.  Sullivan reported that Indians never attacked these drives, believing the little dogs to be harbingers of bad luck. Indeed, there were few risks on a wiener trail,although we know from their songs and stories that wienerboys lived in a constant fear of ringworm.


"Wiener Dog Art" and "The Far Side" are the property of Gary Larson

Jeff Babcock © 2009 Jeff Babcock