Bud: The First Dog to Cross the US by Car

Bud became famous in history as the first dog to make a long journey by car from Idaho to New York City.

On May 23, 1903, 31 year old Horatio Nelson Jackson, an automobile enthusiast and former physician, and 22 year old Sewall Crocker, a former bicycle racer and gasoline engine mechanic, left San Francisco in a cherry red Winton touring car in hopes of becoming the first to cross the US. Just four days before, Jackson had made a $50 bet that he could accomplish this feat by making it to New York City in less than 90 days.

Winton touring car with Bud in the driver's seat

Roads were extremely primitive back then. Fewer than 150 miles of road nationwide were paved. The roads were unkempt, there were no road numbers, road signs or gas stations, and automobiles were very prone to breakdowns. Previous cross-country trips were attempted but ended in failure.

After 19 days, the two men reached Idaho. Today, the trip would take about 13 hours. Jackson had been looking for a dog to accompany them, and he finally got his chance to get one somewhere near Caldwell. A man offered to sell him a young, light colored bull terrier for $15 (equivalent to about $400 today). Jackson took him up on the offer and named his new traveling companion Bud.

Bud became a big attraction everywhere they went, especially after he was fitted with goggles to protect his eyes from the dust. Bud soon became an enthusiast for motoring and made a perfect companion on the long journey over rough terrain. He sat in front and became quite skilled at watching the road and bracing himself for every hill, bump and turn. According to Jackson, Bud was the only member of the trio who "used no profanity for the entire trip."

After many breakdowns, long waits for car parts, getting lost several times, and an accident that tossed them out of the car, the three made it to New York City on July 26. The approximately 4,500 mile journey had taken 63 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes.

After the cross-country trip, Bud lived a full happy life with Jackson in Vermont. Jackson donated his car and Bud's goggles to the National Museum of American History.

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