Rutherford B. Hayes won the election of 1876 by the razor-thin margin of only a single electoral vote — but a win was a win, and the Hayes family and their full complement of dogs moved into the White House the following January.
Hayes once wrote to his daughter that his many dogs and other pets gave “a Robinson Crusoe aspect to our mode of life.”
One of the canine additions to the White House under the Hayes administration was Grim, a beautiful 2-year-old greyhound. In his journal, Hayes wrote of Grim, “He is good-natured and neat in his habits…and took all our hearts at once.”
Although the other first dogs’ “noses were out of joint” upon Grim’s arrival, Hayes wrote that they all adjusted eventually to his presence.
The sleek, well-behaved Grim soon became a celebrity and was a favorite with photographers. Grim’s favorite person in the family, however, was first lady Lucy Hayes. “How happy old Grim always was when she returned after an absence,” Hayes wrote.
A Presidential Dog That Liked to Sing
Lucy and Grim apparently enjoyed “singing” together. Nan Card, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center’s manuscripts curator, says:
“One day, as Lucy sang the Star Spangled Banner, Grim lifted up his head and howled in a most pitiful manner. And ever after, when his mistress sang the national anthem, Grim began to howl.”
Grim accompanied the Hayes family back to Spiegel Grove, Ohio in 1881, and there the dog was joined by two of his own puppies.
Grim’s Sudden Death
Sadly, Grim lived up to his name and had a tragic passing. The White House and the Hayes home in Ohio were flooded with letters of condolence when Grim was hit and killed by a train.
Hayes wrote, “The death of Grim has made us all mourn…. He was killed instantly by a train at Pease’s Crossing. He stood on the track evidently expecting the train to turn out for him. All [horse] teams turned out for him.”