Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

FAQ: Did the Truman family have any pets?

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 puppy herself.

As a young child living on a farm, Harry had some pets. Between the ages of three and six, Harry lived on the Young farm in Jackson County, Missouri, near Grandview. During these years, Harry liked to ride the black shetland pony his father had given him throughout the farm, often alongside his father. Harry and his brother had a black and tan dog named Tandy and a bobtailed Maltese gray cat named Bob, both of whom followed the brothers everywhere they went on the farm. In his memoirs, Truman tells how Bob, the old cat, got his name. Bob was asleep in front of the fireplace one day and a coal popped out and lit the end of his tail on fire, burning off about one inch of it. Bob ran around the room, yowling and trying to climb the walls in distress. Tandy got his name simply by his colors; he was black and tan.