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Classic Art: Butch the Cover Dog

Published: August 12, 2011

“Butch and Albert Staehle”

Artist Albert Staehle and Butch

Animal artist Albert Staehle posed with his star model for the February 19, 1944 Saturday Evening Post.

“Butch and the Nylons” – Albert Staehle

"Butch and the Nylons"
Albert Staehle
February 15, 1947

New Yorkers traversing along Fifth Avenue and 45th Street at dawn may have decided to give up drinking when they heard the lusty crow of a rooster emitting from a high rise. The poor cockerel in an 18th story Manhattan skyscraper was a prisoner of animal artist Albert Staehle, sentenced to posing for a whiskey ad. More about him later. But Post readers were mainly concerned with the nearly two-dozen covers featuring Butch. Running off with a pair of nylons was but one of his misadventures.

“Butch’s Bike Ride” – Albert Staehle

"Butch’s Bike Ride"
Albert Staehle
February 23, 1945

Before Butch helped sales of The Saturday Evening Post along, artist Staehle helped the war effort along with the “prevent forest fires” campaign (lumber was critical to the military). The mascot he came up with for the United States Forest Service was none other than Smokey Bear (often erroneously referred to as “Smokey the Bear,” we’re told), for which Staehle received recognition in the Congressional Record of August 10, 1944.

“Butch and the Broken Lamp” – Albert Staehle

"Butch and the Broken Lamp"
Albert Staehle
June 23, 1946

By the time of this 1946 cover with the broken lamp and a guilty-looking culprit, Butch was becoming quite the celebrity. The editors noted, “Mr. and Mrs. Staehle were riding on a train and had smuggled Butch in beside them. A woman in the next seat looked knowingly at the dog. ‘He looks exactly like Butch on The Saturday Evening Post.’” The artist’s wife assured her this was Butch. Clearly pleased, the lady cried, “Why, how do you do?!” and reached out to shake hands. But not with the artist. With Butch.

“Butch and Baseball” – Albert Staehle

"Butch and Baseball"
Albert Staehle
June 18, 1949

What is with this game? Somebody bats the ball to me, so I must be meant to play, right? Then they start yelling at me!

“Muddy Paw Prints” – Albert Staehle

"Muddy Paw Prints" Albert Staehle

"Muddy Paw Prints"
Albert Staehle
December 6, 1947

Post editors noted that artist Staehle was of the opinion that dogcatchers went about their jobs all wrong. They could easily catch Butch by laying out a clean bedspread. “He’s a tidy little fellow,” the artist said, “and whenever he comes in with dirty feet, he wipes them at least once on the best bed in the house.” Posing for this cover was a model with experience. The next one confused Butch.

“Butch and the Sunday Paper” – Albert Staehle

"Butch and the Sunday Paper" Albert Staehle

"Butch and the Sunday Paper"
Albert Staehle
May 31, 1947

The artist’s attempts to get Butch to bring in the paper were met by blank looks. Butch would watch other dogs do it and still look blank. Finally, the artist “got out a piece of raw beef liver, of which Butch is fond, and folded it inside the funny paper. At those prices Butch understood at once.”

By the way, what happened to the rooster in the high-rise office building? A Post piece from February 1944 assures us that Mr. Staehle found a perfect home for the unwittingly famous fowl in a Long Island barnyard. Finding homes for his models was part of the job. “He gets reports of them,” the article noted, “and is always enchanted when he hears that one of his ex-models is forging ahead in his or her rural career.”

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  • My family got our first Cocker about the same time as Butch appeared on the S.E.P. covers. They got me too, in 1948. I remember seeing those covers when I was little as my older brother saved them in a scrapbook. The artist captured the antics of this amazing little dog perfectly! Butch sure was a cutie!

  • Gena pegg

    We have a cocker who looks exactly like Butch….we found a framed Saturday evening Post cover with Butch and the Sunday paper and just had to have it.


    I am 82 yrs. I remember my father would buy the Saturday Evening Post when we lived in Illinois. Down thru the years I have read it. I surely did enjoy it.

  • Charles Neumann

    I’ve seen some of the Butch covers before, they are very amusing. Butch was the name of my cocker spaniel when I was a boy in the 1950’s. I’m not sure if my folks named him after the Post dog, but they acted very much alike. I don’t remember my Butch getting into quite as much trouble, however.

  • Frank James Davis

    Though Butch is so cute it’s almost annoying, the cover choices are fun–and, as always, Diana provides the colorful color commentary.

  • Dominic Lococo

    Love the dog pictures. Very lovable animal.
    Good artist too!

  • Elise Beron

    Wonderful story. Mr. Staehle catches the personality in every naughty act, and gives all of us a very happy moment. Thank you SEP!