Sunday, November 11, 2007
Many people don't know that Abraham Lincoln and his family owned a pet dog while they lived in Springfield, Illinois. Fido was born in circa 1855 and lived with the Lincoln family for five happy years. The dog was of uncertain ancestry, but closely resembled a retriever/shepherd mix and was roughly the color of mustard.
Fido often followed Lincoln around the streets of Springfield, happily carrying the daily paper or some other object for his master. The dog would wait calmly outside the barbershop while Lincoln would get a trim. Fido was apparently a full-fledged member of the family and was an inside dog with the run of the house. He loved a horsehair sofa in the home and often claimed it for his own.
His time with the Lincoln family ended upon Lincoln's election to the presidency. Lincoln noticed how terrified Fido was of the cannon blasts marking Lincoln's election and never enjoyed being around trains. Lincoln loved animals with a passion (he abhorred hunting and fishing, for example) and strongly believed that Fido would not survive the trip to Washington. So with great sorrow, the Lincolns gave Fido to a local family with the stipulation that he be an indoor dog, given special treats, allowed the run of the home, etc. In fact, the Lincolns even gave Fido's favorite horsehair sofa to the family who took over the raising of Fido.
Fido was still living at the time of Lincoln's assassination and his new owners brought the dog to greet mourners at the Lincoln family home in Springfield. Sadly, Fido himself was killed by a drunken man within a year of Lincoln's death.
Today, original photos or cartes-de-visite (CDV's) of Fido are highly sought after by collectors of Lincoln memorabilia. An original CDV of Fido can fetch upwards of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. They were sold as souvenirs in the months after Lincoln's death.