September 11, 2015 | Posted in 1st Doggies
Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, is remembered as one of the best men at the helm of national affairs. He had many sterling qualities; he had a sense of honor, was brave, honest, hardworking; and compassionate. Anecdotal evidence exists to verify each of these attributes. But do you know that Mr. Lincoln was also a pet lover?
Over the length of his life, he had many pets. Nanny and Nanko, the goats and Tom the turkey are known names. Tom was one lucky turkey, escaping the pot on Thanksgiving courtesy a presidential reprieve. But the most well-known pet that Abraham Lincoln owned was Fido; his faithful yellow-furred and floppy eared mutt. Seems, Fido was a popular canine moniker even back then. And an apt name for an animal whose company is treasured for its fidelity.
Fido was most likely born in 1855. He was his master’s constant companion and a familiar sight whenever Lincoln stepped out on the streets of Springfield, Illinois. Contemporary records state that Fido was an energetic dog and would wait patiently outside the barber’s shop while Lincoln stepped in for a haircut. In fact, even the barber’s name comes down to us – William Florville.
Fido has full run of the Lincoln household and it often drove Mary, Lincoln’s wife to despair. The dog loved prancing around the house and was partial to a horsehair sofa that soon became his favorite seat.
When Lincoln won the presidential elections in 1860 and the time to move to Washington D.C neared, the new president took the hard decision to leave Fido behind. It was hard because Lincoln’s young son Tad loved Fido. But Abraham Lincoln feared for Fido’s wellbeing. He was not sure if his pet would be able to take the strain of a train journey from Springfield to Washington D.C.
And thus began a search for a new home for Fido. Luckily, Fido found new owners that Lincoln was convinced could be trusted with the dog’s upkeep. This was the Roll family; they were neighbors of the Lincoln family. John Eddy Roll, the head of the family, was a carpenter by profession. His two kids, John and Frank took a liking to the animal and promised to take good care of Fido. Lincoln was assured that Fido would be allowed entry into the house when he wanted to; he would not be left tied alone in the backyard; and that he would be allowed to sit around the dinner table and fed with love when the Roll family gathered for their evening repast. Lincoln, on his part, gave the family written instructions on dos and don’ts’ to make Fido feel at home.
By all accounts, the Rolls kept their word. In December 1863, a letter from William Florville arrived at the White House and gave the reassuring news that Fido was doing fine.
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865; Fido did not survive his master by long. He died less than one year after the president’s demise.
It tells us something about the depth of Lincoln’s affection for his pet when we consider that even though Fido never frolicked in the lawns and gardens of the White House, he is still remembered fondly after more than a century and half.