Category Archives: Dogs

Him and Her; LBJ’s Beagles

President Lyndon B. Johnson walks his two beagles as a large group of press members follow. Photo by Cecil Stoughton August 18, 1964. LBJ Library Photo Archive: Image 336-2-WH64
President Lyndon B. Johnson walks his two beagles as a large group of press members follow. Photo by Cecil Stoughton August 18, 1964. LBJ Library Photo Archive: Image 336-2-WH64

President Lyndon Baines Johnson had three of his dogs cremated at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery during his years at the White House. These included his most famous dogs, beagles named “Him” and “Her.” They were litter mates who were born in on June 27, 1963.

Him and Her became famous after an incident during a press conference on April 27, 1964.  President Johnson lifted “Him” by the ears, causing him to yelp.  An Associated Press photographer was present and the photo was published the next day in the Washington Post. 1  People across the country were outraged at what they felt was President Johnson’s abuse of his dog. The furor died down eventually, as it became obvious that the president was a devoted dog lover (although he continued to believe it was okay to lift a beagle up by its ears). 2

Sadly, Him and Her both died young. “Her” died in on November 27, 1964 when she swallowed a stone. Surgeons tried to remove it, but she died on the operating table. “Him” died on June 15, 1966 after being run over by a car on the White House grounds. After their cremations at Aspin Hill, the remains of both dogs were sent to the LBJ Ranch in Texas for burial. 3

Miss Fudge

Dog cemetery, Miss Logan's dog [1921]. National Photo Company Collection. Library of Congress Call Number: LC-F8- 16117 [P&P]
Dog cemetery, Miss Logan’s dog [1921].
National Photo Company Collection.
Library of Congress Call Number: LC-F8- 16117 [P&P]
In mid-September of this year, I was searching the online photographic collections of the Library of Congress. Ever hopeful of finding historical images of Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, I came across this shot of a grave stone for a pet named “Miss Fudge.” The title of the photograph was “Dog cemetery, Miss Logan’s dog.” It was taken around 1921.

Suspecting that this might have been taken at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, I checked the burial records. Sure enough, on the very first page of the oldest burial register, there was an entry for a Mrs. Logan, who buried a fox terrier there on September 15, 1920. There was even a little sketch of the grave stone in the register, which matched the one in the photograph. Continue reading Miss Fudge

Presidential Animal Lovers Calvin and Grace Coolidge

"Grace Goodhue Coolidge." Howard Chandler Christy, 1924. White House Collection/White House Historical Association.
“Grace Goodhue Coolidge.” Howard Chandler Christy, 1924. White House Collection/White House Historical Association.

Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace were animal lovers. They owned several dogs, cats, canaries, and even a raccoon. They also received animals as gifts from other countries, which they often kept at the White House. Some, such as a black bear and wallaby, were sent to the National Zoo to be raised.

Calvin Coolidge’s favorite dog was a white collie named Rob Roy. He was prominently featured in First Lady Grace Coolidge’s official portrait, painted by Howard Chandler Christy in 1924. This painting still hangs in the White House China Room, which was decorated in a shade of red that matched her dress. Continue reading Presidential Animal Lovers Calvin and Grace Coolidge

Aspin Hill Flapper

"Mrs. L. V. Carr with Billy Girl and Aspin Hill Flapper, two dogs that have attracted a considerable amount of attention." Evening Star, January 26, 1924, pg. 16. National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress. LOT 12296 (H) Volume 1, p. 11 (mislabeled "Mrs. P. E. Smith, etc.")
“Mrs. L. V. Carr with Billy Girl and Aspin Hill Flapper, two dogs that have attracted a considerable amount of attention.” Evening Star, January 26, 1924, pg. 16. National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress. LOT 12296 (H) Volume 1, p. 11 (mislabeled “Mrs. P. E. Smith, etc.”)

Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals was begun in 1920, the first year of the decade of the flapper.  A flapper was a young woman who flouted convention by wearing short skirts and bobbing her hair.  She was often seen in wearing a cloche hat and galoshes.  Sometimes, her behavior might be considered risqué, but this was not necessarily so.  At Aspin Hill Kennels, Bertha Birney named one of her female Boston terriers “Aspin Hill Flapper.”  In a 1923 issue of Dog Fancier, it was reported that Aspin Hill Flapper was making quite an impression at dog shows all along the East Coast. Continue reading Aspin Hill Flapper

Rickey, Admiral Byrd’s Sled Dog

Bugler salutes Rickey during his funeral at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery. Evening Star, June 6, 1948
Bugler salutes Rickey during his funeral at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery. Evening Star, June 6, 1948

Military honors for the funeral of a dog are rare, but that’s what happened in 1948, when Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s most famous sled dog was buried at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery.

Rickey, a Labrador husky, was born in 1934 at Little America, an exploration base on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. He left the frigid continent, at the age of nine months, in the company of his owner, Lt. Comdr. Frederick Dustin (USNR). The pair made two return trips to Antarctica in 1939 and 1947. Continue reading Rickey, Admiral Byrd’s Sled Dog

Rags, War Hero

Rags, War Hero. 1st Division Mascot, WW I. Aspin Hill Memorial Park.
Rags, War Hero. 1st Division Mascot, WW I. Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

There’s a granite stone at Aspin Hill Memorial Park which marks the grave of a dog named Rags who is dubbed a “War Hero” and “1st Division Mascot WW I.” I wondered how this dog became a war hero, but I didn’t wonder for long. The tale of Rags is one of the best documented of the pet cemetery stories. Continue reading Rags, War Hero

Dog Statues in Aspin Hill Memorial Park

When a monument to a pet includes the figure of a dog, it pulls at my heart just a little bit harder.  These are the best of the dog statues in Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

Skippy, a Boston terrier (May 2013) dog statues
Skippy, a Boston terrier (May 2013)

I took this photo in May 2013, around the time I first started photographing around Aspin Hill Memorial Park. Lately, there’s been a bone between Skippy’s two paws. I’m sure he’d have loved that. Continue reading Dog Statues in Aspin Hill Memorial Park

Pet Cemetery Mysteries

Here are two grave stones that have me stumped.  I have been unable to find the stories behind them, despite the specific details that the pets’ owners had inscribed on their memorials.  I’ll post them here in the hope that someone may know their stories and share them with me.  Failing that, let us read these memorials and be heartened by the knowledge that our animal friends are capable of heroism.

Jockey, Gordon Setter, Fire Hero of Belle Harbor. Aspin Hill Memorial Park
Jockey, Gordon Setter, Fire Hero of Belle Harbor. Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

Continue reading Pet Cemetery Mysteries

Lest We Forget

Metal plaque on concrete of a Boston terrier. Lettering above reads “Lest We Forget.” Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

I love this simple grave stone.  There is no name or date on it, so I have no story to tell you.  It appears to be cast concrete.  Above the portrait of the Boston terrier, there is a motto, spelled out in metal letters pressed into the concrete:  Lest We Forget.  It’s a simple reminder of what Aspin Hill — or any cemetery — is about:  the loving remembrance of those who have enriched our lives and are now gone.