Here's a little Greenfield and presidential history that many may not be aware of. I found this tidbit on a website dedicated to the history of the presidential enclave, Camp David. The story is as it was written many years ago.

feller_the_dog.jpg (14958 bytes)Feller, a beautiful blond Cocker Spaniel, was an unsolicited 1947 Christmas gift to President Truman. The Trumans elected to give the puppy to the White House physician, Brigadier General Wallace Graham. Dog lovers around the country attacked the President as being anti-canine. Dr. Graham, soon tiring of the press and publicity, decided to get rid of the dog. He had Truman's Naval Aide, Adm. James K. Foskett, take Feller to Shangri-La (Camp David). As the camp was not open to the press this seemed to end the Feller story, until now. The Admiral left Feller with the chief-in-charge, Quartermaster Chief George A. Poplin. When Poplin was transferred, Charles G. Ross, President Truman's secretary, came to camp and told Poplin to leave the dog there. Poplin was relieved as chief-in-charge by Damage Control Chief Ralph O. Loften, who in turn was relieved by Chief Boatswain Robert W. Lyle. In 1953, while Chief Lyle was being transferred to Italy, hetruman & clark clifford.jpg (31414 bytes) sought permission from Naval Aide Admiral Robert L. Dennison to take Feller. Permission was granted, provided that no mention be made that the dog once belonged to Truman. Robert gave Feller to his father, Archie Otis Lyle, who owned a farm just outside Greenfield, Ohio. There Feller lived for many happy years until he died of old age.

As a note of interest, when it became known by the camp crew that a member of the Truman family was to visit Shangri-La, Feller would be taken to a pet groomer in Thurmont just to be looking good in case the Trumans wanted to see him. They never did ask about the dog. Click photos to enlarge.


Courtesy of http://home.rose.net/~king/campdavid/Tour   

The Truman Library's Version

I wanted to see if there was an "official" version regarding Truman's feelings about animals. A search of the Internet took me to the Truman Library's website where I found these two items in their trivia section.


Item One: Yes, although only for short periods of time. They preferred to be a pet-free family. In May 1945, Postmaster General Robert Hannegan gave Margaret Truman an Irish Setter puppy whom she named Mike. Mike spent the summer of 1945 in Independence, Missouri, and had a personalized, freshly painted doghouse in the backyard of the Truman home. Margaret gave him away after a short period of time, saying that Mike often became sick because of the scraps staff members threw out for him. In December of 1947, the Truman family received a crate with a gift inside--a Cocker Spaniel puppy named Feller. The family soon gave Feller away to their personal physician, Dr. Graham. In January of 1948, Margaret explained to the press the family's reason for giving up the dog. Her mother, she said, knew Margaret would not be around to raise Feller and her mother did not wish to raise the puppy herself.

As a young child living on a farm, Harry had some pets. Between the ages of three and six, Harry lived on the Young farm in Jackson County, Missouri, near Grandview. During these years, Harry liked to ride the black Shetland pony his father had given him throughout the farm, often alongside his father. Harry and his brother had a black and tan dog named Tandy and a bobtailed Maltese gray cat named Bob, both of whom followed the brothers everywhere they went on the farm. In his memoirs, Truman tells how Bob, the old cat, got his name. Bob was asleep in front of the fireplace one day and a coal popped out and lit the end of his tail on fire, burning off about one inch of it. Bob ran around the room, yowling and trying to climb the walls in distress. Tandy got his name simply by his colors; he was black and tan.

Item Two: In a letter dated January 12, 1948, Rusty Gilliland, aged 13, of Sarasota, Florida, asked President Truman about a puppy that he (the President) recently received. Rusty said that he heard that President Truman might not keep the puppy and he offered to provide a home to the animal, whom he said he would name "Whitey."

The cocker spaniel puppy, named "Feller" was a gift to President Truman in December, 1947. When the press reported that the Trumans would not be keeping the puppy, many people wrote to offer him a home. "Feller" was given by the President to the family of Brig. Gen. Wallace Graham, his personal physician.

The Trumans were not a pet owning family, although Margaret did receive the gift of an Irish Setter, whom she named "Mike." Mike stayed at the White House for a short period of time early in President Trumanís administration.

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