Updated: Sep 4
George Cansdale's Pets, A Pepys Card Game
First Published: 1955, A Pepys Card Game, Pepys Series by Castell Brothers Ltd., St Cross Street, London
Illustrator or Designer: Illustrations by Racey Helps, endorsement by George Cansdale
Contents: 44 Cards + Rules Booklet
There are 44 cards, 2 each of: 5 Brown Dogs, 4 Black & White Dogs, 4 Cats, 3 Ponies, 4 Other Pets plus 4 Cat-And-Dog Jokers.
Pets cards - Brown Dogs: Alsatian, Boxer, Corgi, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund. Black & White Dogs: Poodle, Scottish Terrier, West Highland Terrier, Sealyham.
Pets cards - Cats: Tabby, Siamese, Persian, Black Kitten. Ponies: Hunter, Grey Pony, Shetland Pony. Other Pets: Tortoise, White Rabbit.
Pets cards - Other Pets: Budgerigar, Harlequin Fish, Cat-And-Dog Joker.
George Cansdale (1909 - 1993) was a household name when he endorsed Pets. His animal programmes for BBC TV included Popular Animal Fallacies, Heads, Tails and Feet, Looking at Animals and All About Animals. He was also a regular guest on BBC Radio's Children's Hour. Later he appeared regularly on Blue Peter and wrote many Ladbybird Books on animals.
He was superintendent of the Zoological Society of London from 1948 to 1953, a forestry officer in what is now Ghana, a collector of animals for numerous zoos and the author of several Natural History books as well as being the joint winner of an IBM Award for Sustainable Development in 1990.
His obituary in the Independent by Biddy Baxter is well worth reading and includes his attempts to tackle the widespread and audacious dishonesty he uncovered at London Zoo.
When Pepys reissued Pets as Family Favourites Cansdale's name was no longer linked to the game. This is surprising as he remained a popular and well known TV personality right though to the 1990s.
The contribution of the Tail-Wagger's Club was similarly erased when Family Favourites replaced Pets. On page 7 of Pets' rule book is this statement: "We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Tail Waggers Club in selecting dogs to be illustrated." No such statement can be found in the Family Favourites rule book.
The Tail-Waggers Club was founded in 1928 by Captain Horace Hobbs. Dogs that became members received a special collar medallion engraved with their unique number and the Club’s logo and motto ‘I help my pals’.
The medallions served as identity discs, an analogue precursor to chipping. On the back of the club's 1929 application form the medallion's benefits are explained:
"Police and dogs' homes and Tail-Wagger owners all promptly communicate particulars of any dog wearing a medallion taken up as lost or strayed. The Club immediately wires both owner and correspondent. Scores upon scores of dogs which otherwise would have been destroyed, have been saved this way".
The club's other objectives were educational and philanthropic, particularly in funding improvements and research at The Royal Veterinary College. The RVC has reformed the club as the Animal Care Trust (ACT) Tailwaggers Club. You can become a member for £5 a month, a tad more, even allowing for inflation, than the original fee of 2s for lifetime membership.
Reproduced below is a 1929 application form, front and back, which gives a lot more detail about the original club, its work and membership benefits, click for a larger image. I wonder if the "Tail-Wagger in Chief" was personally involved in selecting the dogs to be featured in Pets and whether they were upset not to be mentioned in the rules of Family Favourites?
Pets was reissued by Pepys in 1962 as Family Favourites. All references to George Cansdale and the Tailwagger's Club were removed.
The pack of Pets featured here was part of Rex Pitts' personal collection.
Game & Version Details
Pets - Card Back
Pets - Rules Front
Pets - Rules Back
Pets - Rules p7
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Tail Waggers Club in selecting dogs to be illustrated.
Pets - Box Back
Pets - Box Top
Pets - Box Side Left
Pets - Box Base
Pets - Box Side Right
Pets - Box Back With Flap