Picturing America’s Pastime

Listening Dogs: Nipper, Bonzo and Cincy

When a lost fox terrier puppy wandered into the Cincinnati Reds locker room in Pittsburgh more than 70 years ago, she was adopted by the team as their mascot and christened “Cincy.” Reds president Powel Crosley, Jr., an avid dog lover, provided Cincy with an elegant wardrobe including a red leather jacket ornamented with “rubies” and a raincoat.

In this photograph, taken in May of 1935, Cincy listens to a radio broadcast of a baseball game in the company of her teammates: Manager Chuck Dressen, first baseman Jim Bottomley and centerfielder Chick Hafey, who assisted her with the headphones. She poses with a Crosley Radio Corporation single tube “Pup” radio receiver developed by Powel Crosley’s manufacturing firm in 1925. Known as the “Henry Ford of radio,” Crosley produced affordable radios for a mass market.

The Crosley Radio Corporation issued its first advertisement for the Pup radio in July of 1925 featuring an image of a terrier sporting headphones with the logo “Watch for the Crosley Pup! ‘It’s a sky terrier.’” The motto uses a pun to refer to an extremely rare breed of dogs from the Isle of Skye in Scotland known as Skye terriers.

Later Crosley embraced a famous cartoon dog as their advertising icon, a pudgy puppy created by British artist George E. Studdy named “Bonzo.” Also depicted wearing a head set, he became a popular marketing image for Crosley Pup radios. Like “Nipper,” the RCA Victor dog who became famous for listening to “his master’s voice” on the phonograph, Bonzo’s image was widely reproduced on a variety of commercial merchandise. In this image, Cincy playfully imitates other notable listening dogs.

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