Abraham Lincoln was a compassionate, empathetic man who’s gentle nature extended to the animals around him. He had many pets during his lifetime, including – like so many Presidents before and after him – several dogs.
Two of the more famous dogs are Fido and Jip, but there were other dogs that bounded in and out of Abraham Lincoln’s life. Although these dogs’ names have been lost to history, there are mention of them in many biographies written about Lincoln.
In March of 1830 while Abraham Lincoln, his father, and other family traveled to Illinois they were confronted by an icy river. After the wagon had boarded the flatboat and it had begun the crossing, the family noticed that their dog had been left behind. Thomas Lincoln, Abraham’s father, elected to leave the dog, but Abraham jumped into the icy river, waded to shore, and rescued the forgotten dog. When berated, he told his father: “The dog feels better, and except for cold feet, so do I.”
This theme of saving and protecting animals would remain constant throughout Lincoln’s life. He was the type of man who would stop to return two baby birds to their nest, or to pardon a turkey that had been specifically raised for Christmas dinner. Even a snake deserved Lincoln’s compassion – once, when his mother told him to kill one, he replied “No, it enjoys living just the same as we do.”
All of the dogs counted as pets throughout Lincoln’s remarkable life were fortunate to have such a strong-minded individual who stood for their well-being long before animal welfare was even considered.