`Look at people and their pets today. Pets tell something about their owners, whether they are bought to make a fashion statement, as child substitutes or as an expression of unconditional love between two sentient beings.' So remarked Robin G ibson, the author of this book , on its first publication in 1998. `It i s about the various animals that appear in portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, but it is also about the owners of the animals w ho commissioned the portraits. The association of the subject or indeed the artist of a po rtrait with an identifiable pet immediately adds a further dimension to our understanding of the characterisation. ' For example, in a self - portrait by Hogarth there is a pug - probably painted over by the artist and visible only under X - ray - relieving itself on a pile of old master paintings. `A succinct comment,' Gibson writes , `on those collectors who preferred second - rate foreign imports to contemporary work s by British artists. ` From the Elizabethan soldier and diplomat Sir Henry Unton to the children of King Charles I; from the little terrier that records Lady Caroline Lamb's first extra - marital affair to Queen Victoria's dogs, photographed with her Ghillie John Brown; from the extraordinary images of ballet dancer Anna Pavlova and her pet swan to the poet and critic Edith Sitwell and her favourite cat, this book charts the British love - affair with the domestic pet. F or this new edition , the naturalist, pho tographer and television presenter Chris Packham has contributed an introductory text that features additional portraits from the Gallery's collections . Amusing and often surprising, this delightful book provides some unusual insight s into the special bond between sitters and their faithful companions.