Friday, February 12, 2010

President Lincoln's Dog

Today is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who was a very famous president of the United States.  And the reason he was so famous was because he was the president during the Civil War, when a bunch of southern states went off and started their very own country, and then everybody spent four years fighting and killing each other.  But in the end, the slaves got freed, and the South lost, so they had to be part of the United States again.

That's all I'm going to tell you about the Civil War because it's a deep and complicated subject, and if you want to know more about it, there are whole libraries of books that you can read.  But what I am going to tell you about is President Lincoln and his dog, Fido.  Mr. Lincoln was a kind man who really loved animals, so he didn't like to go hunting or fishing, and he definitely did not go fox-hunting, like President Washington did.  Oh, and by the way, I have the correct date for Abraham Lincoln's birthday, instead of telling you it was a month earlier, like I did with George Washington's birthday.

So anyway, Mr. Lincoln had this dog that was yellow, and it was kind of a mixed breed, and he named him Fido.  This name comes from the Latin, and it means something like "I am faithful," which is a good thing for a dog to be.  Nowadays, nobody really names their dog Fido, but "Fido" is just kind of a general name that means any dog.  But when Mr. Lincoln became the president, and everybody found out that he had named his dog Fido, they all named their dogs Fido, too, and it became a very popular name.

Fido Lincoln was probably born about 1855, and he lived with the Lincoln family until Mr. Lincoln got elected president in 1860.  The Lincolns used to live in a big house in Springfield, Illinois, and Fido would follow Mr. Lincoln around town when he was out running errands and stuff.  And sometimes Fido would carry a newspaper or whatever in his mouth to be helpful to his dad.  Then if Mr. Lincoln had to get a haircut, Fido waited outside the barbershop until he was finished, and there were usually several dogs there, all waiting for their dads to get haircuts.

Anyway, after Mr. Lincoln got to be president, the whole family started packing so they could move to Washington, D.C., but Mr. Lincoln didn't think that Fido would like living there.  And this was because when Mr. Lincoln got elected, the whole town of Springfield celebrated by firing cannons and ringing loud church bells, and poor Fido was really scared, so he hid under the horsehair sofa.  Mr. Lincoln thought Fido would be too scared to ride a train all the way to Washington, and also there would be lots of noise and scary stuff after they got there.  So he told his two youngest sons, Willie and Tad, that Fido would have to stay in Springfield.

Well, Willie and Tad did not like that idea because they loved Fido, and they wanted their dog to go with them wherever they went to live.  But Mr. Lincoln said no.  And he took Fido to the local photographer and had his photo made, which was the first time that a First Dog ever had his photo taken.  And then Mr. Lincoln got the photo framed so they could take it to Washington with them.

After that, the Lincolns found a very nice family for Fido to live with.  And this family's last name was Roll, and they had two young boys.  Mr. Lincoln made them promise that Fido could come in the house whenever he wanted to and that he would never be scolded for having muddy feet.  And they also had to promise never to tie him up in the back yard and leave him all by himself there.  Then the Lincolns gave the Rolls their horsehair sofa, just so that Fido would feel at home.

In Washington, President Lincoln got another dog named Jip, but we don't know if Jip was a boy or a girl.  And Tad got a dog, and she had puppies, so maybe that was Jip, or maybe it was a different dog.  The Lincolns also had two kittens and two goats named Nanny and Nanko.  And one time Tad drove a goat cart through one of the rooms in the White House, which surprised the guests quite a bit.

Then in 1864, Mr. Lincoln got elected to be president again, and in 1865 the War ended.  But some of the Southerners were mad because they lost the War, and one of them shot President Lincoln, and he died.  Then his body went in a train back to Springfield to be buried, and Mr. Roll brought Fido to the funeral.

A few months after President Lincoln died, Fido also died, and the way it happened was that he was out roaming around town one day, and he came up to this drunk man who was sitting on a curb.  And because Fido was a friendly dog, he jumped on the man in a playful way, but the man was not in the mood to play.  So he got mad and stabbed Fido with a knife, and that's how Fido died.

I'm sorry that this story has such a sad ending, but sometimes that happens with stories.


  1. I'm not sure, but wasn't President Clinton's "first" dog named Bo too? I'm thinking he had a black lab...but can't remember what happened to him? Just a thought! Dodi and Di were both happy to hear that President Lincoln DID have a couple of cats! :)
    Love, AP

  2. Dear Aunt Patty,
    President Clinton didn't have a dog for a long time -- he just had that cat named Socks. And then he finally wised up and got a dog, which was a chocolate lab puppy. The puppy's name was Buddy, which starts with a "B" like "Bo," so maybe that's why you thought that Buddy was really named Bo. Anyway, after the Clintons moved to New York, Buddy got hit by a car and he died. I don't know what became of Socks.
    Love, Piper

  3. WOW....wherever the saying "memory like an elephant" came from, should be changed to "memory like a Basenji." You are soooo correct!!
    Love, AP

  4. I am reading a distinct distain for cats in your comments... :)

    I believe that President Clinton's Secretary, Bettie Currie, adopted Sock at the end of the Clinton administration.

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      Since I am a dog, I think it is my right to have some disdain for cats. Ha! But you will be happy to know that I am learning more respect for them since we adopted a couple of them and also have been fostering kittens.
      Sincerely, Piper