The year 1996 was an odd year -- the good kind of 'weird', when a computer named "Deep Blue" beat a game of chess against champion Gary Kasparov, and when movies almost always dictated the trends to come and go.
Ever since Disney released the live-action film "101 Dalmatians" and when The Dogs Act of 1996 (an act in which abandoned dog feces becomes a criminal act) was ratified, people became more wary, caring and affectionate to dogs than they already have. These may just explain the plethora of dog portraits.
It's not only dogs that became trendy. If you recall "The Craft", that film is partially responsible for the mid-90's black-and-gothic get-up. And don't forget Melissa Joan Hart, who played as Sabrina the Teenage Witch. A film of the same name and starring actress was also released in the year. Such trend may also explain why rock bands (and all of its subgenres) like Metallica, Marilyn Manson, The Smashing Pumpkins and the like were always on the radio waves. Not that we're surprised -- the first ever Broadway musical "Rent" opened this year too.
That's a lot of cultural breakthroughs if you ask us!
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