Who was Fido?
Fido's date of birth is unknown, but it is believed that Abraham Lincoln's beloved pet was born in 1855. He was a floppy-eared, rough-coated, yellowish "mutt" of uncertain ancestry. It was common to see Fido, with a parcel in his mouth, accompany Abraham Lincoln as he made his errands around springfield. When Mr. Lincoln stopped at Billy the Barber's for a haircut, Fido would wait outside with the other customer's pets. Fido loved attention and would put on a show of chasing his tail for anyone who happened by. Although just a mutt, the Lincolns treated Fido like royalty.
Mr. Lincoln looked for a good home for Fido and decided to give him to two neighborhood boys, John and Frank Roll. Both boys were very fond of Fido and promised to take good care of him while the Lincoln's were in Washington D.C. The Lincoln's had several conditions that the boys agreed to. They were to never scold Fido if he tracked mud into the house on his paws. Fido was never to be tied up alone in the backyard and was to be let into the house whenever he scratched on the door. He was also to be given scraps of food from the table. The boys both agreed that they would continue to spoil Fido.
To help make Fido feel more at home, the Lincolns gave the horsehair sofa that Fido was used to sleeping on to the Rolls. Lincoln's dog Fido was the first presidential dog known to be photographed. Before leaving for Washington D.C., Lincoln's two sons, Tad and Willie, had Fido's photograph taken. Fido was taken to F.W. Ingmire's studio in Springfield for his photograph.
After President Lincoln's assassination, Fido watched the funeral procession as it went through Springfield. Like his master, Fido also met an untimely demise. One year after President Lincoln's assassination, Fido was stabbed to death by a drunken man on a street in Springfield.
The word "Fido" comes from the Latin word "Fidelitas" which means "faithful."
This story was originally published and displayed in the Smithsonian and is now part of its permanent collection.