There seem to be many stories about this dog. Abraham Lincoln had a stray that the family adopted and loved for many years. It’s said that the Lincolns kept that mixed breed dog up until the time they left for Washington — but decided that the hoopla of the presidency with people coming and going all the time would be too much for the poor pup, so they left him in the care of friends. There were also stories about what happened to Fido. One version says that he was intentionally stabbed by a town drunk — and another says it was an accident. Another story line goes that President Lincoln did indeed bring Fido to Washington and had him around constantly as he lived through the tough times of being Commander-in–Chief. So, did Fido live in the White House or not? Was he murdered like his owner? All questions with no answers that we can depend on.
Fido became a legend. There have been countless dogs named after him over the years, and when that happens there is often an expectation that somehow the name will endow the namee with certain attributes. I had a neighbor who was named after Shirley Temple. She could neither sing nor dance, and in fact ended up being alone and shunned, since she was the proud owner of over forty-five cats.
Then there was a distant relative of my dad’s. He was named after George Washington, and as far as I know he was never president of anything, he didn’t chop down any cherry trees, and he never set foot near the Potomac. He was also known to tell a few ‘stretchers’ along the line of catching the biggest fish and fighting off a whole swarm of Apaches, single handed, while capturing the chief of the tribe. So much for, “I cannot tell a lie.”
Another acquaintance was named after a world famous singer and actor. Although he did have jet black hair, that’s about where the resemblance ended. This namesake couldn’t carry a tune in a basket with a lid on it, and was about as famous as, well, no one. Poor Elvis cleaned the stalls at a local horse barn and was nicknamed “Stretch” because he could reach the back of the stall without stepping in anything.
Maybe the conclusion is that we can’t expect our personality to be anything but what it is. Even if we are named with the best of intentions, it doesn’t guarantee that we’ll grow up to be a president, a singer or dancer, or even an honest person. Fido means “credit,” “trust,” “faithful.” A dog worthy of being in the White House. A dog willing to stand by its owner through thick and thin.
I don’t think naming someone after someone famous is as prevalent as it used to be. Maybe that’s because it’s disappointing to name a child after a famous race car driver and the kid grows up to be carsick. Or naming a kid after a rich financier and he ends up in jail for embezzlement. Back a few decades ago, it was common to name children after famous people, but now kids get trendy names like, “Aurora,” “Liam” and “Theo.” Modern names include “River,” “Echo” and “Sage.” As for dogs, “Rosie,” “Charlie” and “Lola” are in vogue. I guess good old Fido is out of style now, so I have an alternate in case I get a dog someday. This dog won’t have a reputation to live up to or be compared unfairly. I don’t want my pet to feel the pressure of being something he isn’t. I want my canine to be a free spirit; a dog who is unfettered by the demands of society. A dog doing his own thing in his own time. I’m gonna name him — or her — Lazy.