Feller: Truman's Unwanted Dog

Feller, an adorable little puppy, became famous in history when President Truman refused him as a gift, causing a public outcry.

In 1945, Truman became the 33rd President of the US after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Like FDR, Truman was given a dog as a Christmas gift. Unlike FDR who adored his dog Fala, Truman gave his dog away.

In December 1947, a five week old cocker spaniel named Feller arrived at the White House in a crate. A supporter from the President's home state of Missouri had sent the dog as a gift. Truman rejected the puppy and gave him away to his personal physician Brigadier General Wallace Graham, who kept Feller in his quarters at Walter Reed Hospital.

Thousands of dog lovers across America attacked Truman as "anti-dog" and even scorned the doctor for taking him. Dr. Graham, upset by the controversy, decided to give Feller to Admiral James K. Foskett. Eventually, the unwanted dog was shipped off to Camp David, went to Italy with one of his handlers and finally ended up on a farm in Ohio where it is said he lived "for many happy years."

The Truman Library says "They [the Trumans] preferred to be a pet-free family." However, dog expert Stanley Coren said his research clearly showed Truman did not like dogs and that the President called Feller "a dumb dog." According to Coren, Truman said "I didn't ask for him, and I don't need him."