|FELLER; GREENFIELD'S PRESIDENTIAL PUPPY|
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, he 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
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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