While whizzing down one of the northern Valley’s busiest highways, passersby gazing at the rooftop skyline are often shocked to see this jumbo-sized, protruding pup. He perches atop an unassuming building located in one of the Valley’s largest cities.
This lovable canine statue is modeled after Nipper, a fox and bull terrier mixed mutt that lived more than 100 years ago.
Nipper’s tale began in 1884 in Bristol, England. A stray, he found residence with one Mark Barraud. After his master’s death, Nipper — suitably named because he nipped at visitors’ ankles — went to live with Barraud’s brother, Francis, a struggling painter. Although delighted to welcome a new pal into his home, Francis felt that the dog missed his original owner. He noticed how Nipper habitually sat in front of his cylindrical phonograph, head cocked to the side, looking puzzled by the sounds the machine was creating. To Francis, it was as if the puppy was listening for the words of his late master.
It wasn’t until 1898, three years after Nipper’s demise, that Francis painted this scene onto canvas. In 1900, the Gramophone Company trademarked the painting — appropriately dubbed His Master’s Voice — and its title. Eventually, the image became the official symbol of RCA Victor records, and one of the most memorable icons in advertising history.
In 1954, the Nipper pictured below — which stands 25 feet tall and weighs four tons — became the largest man-made dog in the world. A crane was used to hoist him up to the roof of the building (which, at the time, was owned by RCA and was the tallest structure in the area). An aerial beacon ascends from Nipper’s right ear to alert low-flying aircraft to his massive presence, and a collar inscribed with his name circles his steel-framed neck. When a family business purchased the site in 1997, community members feared that their beloved four-legged friend might be dismantled. The building’s new owners, however, renovated the entire structure, and restored Nipper to his original glory.
Today, this RCA mascot still stands — or rather, sits — as a historic community character. Clearly seen from miles around, he serves as a memorable landmark and a playful attraction in this upstate metropolis. Do you know the city over which this puzzled pooch sits? If so, E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The first reader with the correct answer wins a prize. Good luck!