The tragic story of Lincoln’s pup

How the President's loyal pet met the same fate as his master...

The tragic story of Lincoln's pup © Wikimedia Commons

Britain is a nation of pet-lovers, especially for pampered pooches. So, it’s easy for us to sympathise with the ill-fated Abraham Lincoln, who as well as possessing an unusual compassion for humanity, loved animals almost as much. The pets over his lifetime ranged from turkeys, pigs, cows, and more conventional animals such as cats. Indeed, when asked if Lincoln had any hobbies, his wife Mary was known to sarcastically reply “cats”. But Lincoln’s most favourite pet of all was his lovely yellow dog called Fido.

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Fido came to Lincoln before he was president, while he was still living and working as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois. When the Lincoln family moved into the White House, they found Fido to be terrified of fireworks and loud noises – whose dog isn’t? So, they sent him back to Springfield to live with some caring family friends.

The spoiled pup stayed with Lincoln’s friends, the Roll family, for the rest of his days. Lincoln and co would visit him as often as their busy schedule allowed, but in the meantime, Fido was to be treated as a member of the family: he would sleep on his very own sofa, be fed from the dinner table, and generally allowed to have more than his fair share. He was definitely living the high life, a VIP pet in a world of mistreated strays and doomed farm animals.

But Fido’s sheltered upbringing was to prove his downfall. In a strange foreboding of things to come, Fido was murdered when he was out on the town. Looking to befriend the local drunkard, he put his muddy paws on the aggressive man, which was to seal his undoing. Enraged that this friendly dog had dared get his clothes dirty, the man heartlessly stabbed Fido, who crawled away before dying behind a nearby church.

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After they found him, Roll gave Fido the honourable burial he deserved, to give the chirpy canine some dignity and to give the Lincoln family a smidgen of comfort in the midst of the terrible news. So, we might remember Lincoln not only as an inspiring politician, but a relatable animal lover as well.