Just like the generic terms Kleenex and Xerox have become part of our present vernacular for common items, the once-popular name for male dogs, Fido has become synonymous term for “dog.”
What Does Fido Mean?
Looking at the Latin origin of “Fido” (pronounced fee-do), we find it means “trustworthy” or “faithful” as well as “to trust or confide in.” Surely that’s no coincidence since these terms are still used today to describe the best characteristics of the beloved canines who share our lives!
Fido: How Did It All Start?
While today, Fido is used as a generic noun, once upon a time, this was a wildly popular name for a male dog! (According to Rover.com, Max is the most popular name for a male dog this year.)
Click here to find out what other popular dog names made the list.
You may not know who owned the first famous “Fido,” but you will recognize the name! History credits Lincoln, our 16th President, with the first famously named canine! This mixed-breed, a yellow, floppy-eared male dog was described as a “frisky mongrel” in a 1954 article in Life Magazine as well as Lincoln’s “near-constant companion” to the then-lawyer before he became President 5 years later.
“This dog was almost always with Lincoln and the people of Springfield would report that it was a common sight to see Lincoln walking down the street with Fido walking behind, carrying a parcel by the string tied around it. A regular stop for Lincoln was at Billy’s Barbershop for a haircut. Fido would settle down to wait outside patiently, although he could easily be lured into a game involving jumping and twirling when young children came by and paid any particular attention to him.”
(According to Historian Stanley Coren)
“Frisky” Fido did not accompany the Lincoln family into the White House, although another dog named Jip and two goats (Nanny and Nanko) did go with the Lincoln family.
But the President did make arrangements for his furry best-friend to have a spoiled and comfortable life! He even gave the new owner (Abraham’s oldest friend in Springfield, John E. Roll) a custom-built couch (that accommodated Lincoln’s 6’4” height) as it was the dog’s favorite place to sleep! The story also details the detailed instructions Lincoln made including scraps from meals, never to be tied up outside alone and to never be disciplined for muddy paws in the house!
It’s crystal clear that President Lincoln was a devoted animal lover!
As time went on, this story made it into the media and the popularity of his name grew during Lincoln’s presidency even gaining him the record for the first-ever presidential pet to be photographed! This pooch’s fame was fueled even further by the President’s assassination in 1865. Interestingly, mourners were even able to meet and pet the fallen President’s beloved dog.
Sadly, Fido met his own unforeseen and tragic ending a year later, but the popularity of his name still lives on today, generations later, as the quintessential standard of a friendly and faithful canine. No doubt much of Fido’s celebrity came from his popular and famous owner, Honest Abe. But it’s a living testament to them both that their story still lives on behind the simple name, Fido.
Interested where the generic names “Rover” and “Spot” came from? Click here to find out!
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