Last updated on April 24, 2015
I am not much of a Presidential history buff, but I am very interested in the role dogs played in the lives of important people throughout history. It was with great joy, then, that I was made aware of a new book by Matthew Algeo, Abe & Fido: Lincoln’s Love of Animals. Indeed Abe Lincoln had a passion for pets.
Since “Fido” is part of our blog namesake, this book, its pages rich in history and a few literal and figurative dog ears, made for a perfect weekend read. This is the type of book that is historic but not mundane and a definite page turner.
Here are our top seven”did you know” moments from the book (we won’t reveal all of them, as you should discover this well written and researched tale).
* Though most settlers of the American frontier viewed animals as what they could provide for humans, Lincoln showed empathy and consideration for animals, many of whom he would borrow from neighbors because he could not afford his own. During one of his school days, the President was assigned to write an essay and chose the topic of animal cruelty. Considering the time in which he lived, Lincoln’s love and compassion for animals was a minority view.
* Lincoln’s first pet was a dog named Honey, whom he acquired as a young boy of six or seven years of age. Algeo writes that Lincoln found the dog with a broken leg and nursed him back to health but it’s also possible his parents gifted Abe with the dog for the loss of his pet pig. One day the dog began barking at a drunkard in the streets, which infuriated the man into kicking the dog repeatedly. Lincoln screamed and cried, and the dog was able to be saved. Lincoln nursed Honey back to health.
* Lincoln adopted a mutt named Fido in 1855. According to one biographer, the mutt likely offered comfort to Honest Abe, who was suffering a midlife crisis at the time.
* Female dogs in heat in the 1850’s were often locked in basements, as spaying and neutering did not become routine until the 1960’s. For the pet bloggers reading this, consider that is a mere 55 years ago: We have come a long way but have a long way to go. This is an aspect of the book I enjoyed immensely: the history of the dog as a species, from whence dog food came, and a look at how dogs were very mistreated not so long ago.
* When Lincoln became President, he was unable to take the dog with him, but after careful investigation, he selected the Roll family to care for the dog. Lincoln’s barber in Springfield wrote to the President to apprise him of the dog from time to time.
* When Lincoln’s body was returned to Springfield, Illinois for burial after his murder, Fido the dog greeted mourners at the Lincoln home. A year later, in a sad ironic fate, Fido was murdered at the hands of a drunkard.
* Lincoln lavished his dog and allowed him inside the house and fed him dinner scraps, showing an indulgent side as many do today in 2015.
There are a few photographs that remain of Fido, and here is a snapshot of what the author includes in this book:
This book is one of the most collective accounts of the relationship of Abraham Lincoln and animals, particularly his beloved dog, Fido.
“Much about Abraham Lincoln’s life is shrouded in myth, mystery, and controversy — even his pet dog, “Algeo writes. “I merely wanted to tell the story of an ordinary dog and his extraordinary master living through turbulent times.”
And so he does. Long live Fido, and thanks for being honest and true to animals, Abe.
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Want to own a copy of this treasured book? Fidose of Reality has teamed with Chicago Review Press to give away two copies of Abe & Fido. Simply enter by using the Rafflecopter form below. If you simply can’t wait and want to get your paws on a copy of the book right away, Abe & Fido is available at Amazon.com and other fine book dealers. U.S. only with complete rules here. (note: We were not compensated to review this book and we did receive a complimentary copy of the book from Chicago Review Press for review).