Poor Little Feller
I hope everyone has read Deanna’s article on giving live pets as presents (Live Gifts – Instructions Not Included). It’s a good article on the dangers of giving live pets as gifts and should be sent to anyone contemplating giving an animal as a gift. Even Uncle Harold.
Christmas puppies often are impulse purchases, given with the spirit of love and generosity that goes with the season, but without any thought about if the recipient has the time, energy, and money to give the necessary commitment into raising a puppy into a happy and healthy dog.
Not everyone will welcome a new pet into the household. Doesn’t matter where they live, what the household income is, or what they do for a living. Not everyone wants a pet. And once upon a time, not even the Commander-In-Chief welcomed a puppy as a gift.
In December 1947, President Harry S. Truman received a crate containing an unsolicited Christmas gift. A cocker spaniel puppy. President Truman named the pup “Feller”. But he was not real thrilled with this gift.
Margaret Truman thought the puppy was cute and was willing to care for him, but her mother objected. As the First Lady, Mrs. Truman would be away a good deal of the time with her White House duties and would not have the time to raise a puppy. And “mom” did not want the job. Since no one in the White House wanted the puppy, Truman decided to give him to Brigadier General Wallace Graham, the White House physician. Feller was kept at Dr. Graham’s Walter Reed Hospital quarters.
This didn’t sit well with dog lovers across the country. They attacked Truman as “anti-dog” and even scorned Dr. Graham for taking the dog. Thousands wrote letters telling the President that they would happily adopt the pet. Upset by the controversy, Dr. Graham decided to get rid of the dog.
Dr. Graham gave the dog to Admiral James K. Foskett, who had Feller taken to Camp David where he was then given to Quartermaster Chief George A. Poplin.
It’s not clear if any of the White House senior staff really owned Feller. It may be that he was somewhat still considered President Truman’s dog. Anyway, Feller was destined to remain at Camp David and became known as The Unwanted Dog.
When Poplin was transferred he was told to leave Feller at Camp David. Feller’s owners/caretakers since Poplin were 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, he sought permission from 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. Feller lived there for many happy years until he died of old age.
Believe it or not, this famous quote is by Harry S. Truman “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
Sad? For Feller, not really. He did have the staff at Camp David to watch over him and found a forever happy home on a farm. But most unwanted pets are not so lucky. Their fate is uncertain.
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