Monday, December 17, 2007

This post is for the dogs

On a recent trip with some friends to Springfield, Missouri, we were walking out of the Lincoln home, and the tour-guide was mentioning the Lincoln pets, and I said “The dog’s name was Fido.”
The tour-guide confirmed the information.
A friend looked at me, “how the heck did you know that?”
“It says so in the foyer of the museum we were in twenty minutes ago.”
“There you go, reading again.”

Here’s a brief biography of Fido Lincoln, with three photographs.
Around 1855 Abraham Lincoln's beloved Fido was born. He was a mutt so to speak but as far as the Lincolns were concerned, Fido was royalty. He was often seen with his master around Springfield carrying a newspaper in his mouth. He was a brownish dog with more or less yellow in his coat, resembling perhaps a shepherd.
I like that under the heading it says, “uncertain ancestry.” That’s what the world needs – professional dog genealogists. However, I was shocked to learn of Fido’s end. The blurb at the museum, which included this portrait

also mentioned that he hadn’t gone to DC with the Lincolns, the newly elected President not certain the beloved dog would survive the trip. Fido was left with neighbor boys, John and Frank Roll, with explicit instructions that he be pampered in the style to which he had been accustomed. However, the museum's blurb didn't mention that Fido Lincoln Roll’s death mirrored that of his former master.
One year later, Fido was also "assassinated" or killed by a man, who, in a drunken rage, stabbed the dog to death. Fido had playfully put his paws up on the man who was sitting on the street curb. Fido had strayed from his home with the Rolls, and like his master, was assassinated.
Extremely sad, but Fido did live ten years, in a manner most 19th century canines could only dream about.

For those who like to play the game of comparison between Lincoln and Kennedy, one might also add to the list that in 1966, one century after Fido was stabbed to death, President Lyndon Baines Johnson's dog, Him, was run over by a car. (Linked news story is actually about the death of Buddy, Clinton's dog, but it mentions LBJ's dog.)

A month ago I was looking at some photos in my late grandfather’s collection, and noticed a photograph of my great-grandmother holding a pup. I was told by my mother the dog’s name was Choo-Choo.

I came to the conclusion that Choo-choo, and all the other pets of importance to family members, deserved mention in my genealogy database. Perhaps entire entries. But how do I do that? I’m not so far over the edge that I would indicate a pet as a person’s child. “Adopted” doesn’t quite work either. (Close, but I wouldn't want anyone to get confused...)

So I went to the IFamilyForTiger forums and made the suggestion.

Keith Wilson, the developer behind the software, gave me a few ideas for recording pets as the software currently stood, and also said there was a potential for an AssociatedPerson entity in the future. While meant for friends, business associates, etc, it could certainly be expandable to our animal companions. I look forward to that extension, for recording animal companions, but also because I can think of a few friends and associates for whom I would write entries. However, I know other features may be ahead of it on his list. I also know he is busy working on IFamilyForLeopard which I expect to be updating to when it is released.

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