Hidden in plain sight on a gable between two towers on the roof of shipping firm F. Laeisz’ headquarter in Hamburg sits an unexpected bronze sculpture. With the naked eye, it can be a bit difficult to see from the ground what the small statue six floors up depicts. Is it a lion, a bear or perhaps a bull? No, it’s actually a poodle - and this dog sculpture has an interesting story closely connected to a local shipping family.
There are many cute pet names you can use for your loved ones. If you choose to call someone ‘Poodle’, however, it requires an explanation. ‘Poodle’ was the nickname of Sophie Christine Laeisz (1831 – 1912), wife of shipping magnate and major patron Carl Heinrich Laeisz (1828-1901). It’s said that he gave the humorous nickname to his spouse due to her extravagant poodle-like corkscrew hair. Choosing a “romantic” pet name wasn’t enough for the besotted maritime tycoon though. He therefore made a splurge and had a poodle sculpture erected on top of his company’s building to publicly prove his love to his curly wife.
For the same reason, the shipowner had previously also christened a new three-masted barque to “Poodle”, which became the Laeisz firm’s first merchant vessel to have a name starting with the letter P. Some decades later, nearly all of the shipping line’s sailing ships had P-names - like for example ‘Peking’, ‘Passat’ and ‘Pommern’. The fleet was now commonly known as ‘The Flying P-Liners’ thanks to its international reputation of being fast.
Know Before You Go
The F. Laeisz building is located within walking distance from Hamburg's main shopping streets. If going by public transport, you can catch the yellow subway line U3 to the Rathaus station. Don't forget to bring a pair of binoculars or a camera with a good zoom if you want to get a closer look at the rooftop sculpture!