And President Hayes’s Greyhound Grim
by Joan Dillon
This past spring, greyhounds once again trod the grounds of Spiegel Grove, home of President Rutherford B. Hayes, in Fremont, Ohio. They were there because Sue Williams, former treasurer of the Toledo Chapter of Greyhound Companions of Indiana, saw an article in Celebrating Greyhounds which mentioned that President Hayes had owned a greyhound. Since Toledo is near Fremont, this seemed an ideal location for a Meet ‘N Greet. The Hayes Presidential Center jumped at the chance to host the greyhounds and, on May 23, 1998, eight people and ten greyhounds were welcomed by the director, Dr. Roger Bridges.
Sue also did a little research on the Hayes’ greyhounds and found several entries in President Hayes’ diary, including “Our favorite dog — our greyhound, ‘Grim’” and the following diary entry dated April 29, 1882 which tells of Grim’s arrival:
“Yesterday we received by express a beautiful brindle, mouse-colored greyhound named ‘Grim.’ He is said to be two years old. He is good-natured and neat in his habits. He came from Mr. William DuPont of Wilmington, Delaware. Our kinsman, Austin of Cleveland, is the medium. ‘Grim’ took all our hearts at once.”
Grim’s demise is described in a letter from President Hayes to his daughter Fanny.
Spiegel, March 5, 1885
MY DARLING: — The death of Grim has made us all mourn. He was a great ornament to our home, and a comfort to all of us. He was killed instantly by a train on the Lake Shore Railroad at Pease’s Crossing. He stood on the track evidently expecting the train to turn out for him. All teams turned out for him; the whole county knew him and respected him. He was a privileged character in every place. His head was taken off — also his foreleg. His remains will be buried when the frost is out of the ground on Cemetery Point by the side of “Old Whitey” and “Old Ned.” Some natural tears have been shed over him, and you will be sad as your mother was and is.
The prize, however, has to be the following letter from President Hayes’ daughter-in-law, Mary, to a Mrs. Nickham describing the antics of the family dogs:
Toledo, March 23rd 1887
I have obtained a few items concerning the dogs in the family; but none before the days of Grim. He was not with the family in Washington and was a full grown dog when presented to them. The first peculiarity noticed in Grim was at one time when Mrs. Hayes was singing “Star Spangled Banner.” On striking some of the high notes, Grim lifted up his head and howled in a most pitiful manner; and ever after that when he heard her sing that song, the same thing would occur. He was a very large handsome greyhound of a dark grey color. He was a great runner, and would go so rapidly that he could not stop for a tree if it chanced to be in his way; and has often been known to run into one.
When his two puppies Jove and Juno were presented to him he showed great disgust probably caused by jealousy; but he soon became fond of them and the three immense greyhounds would run races all about the place and if they could find a door open into the house would have the chases even there, until intercepted. Then there was at that time a handsome shepherd dog and a little black terrier called Jet, and these dogs would nearly always bring up the rear in these races making quite a procession. Grim was so large and commanding in appearance, that people on the street would turn aside for him. He even expected carriages and wagons to do so, and they did.
One day while running on the track he saw an engine coming and stopped still. It drew nearer and the engineer recognizing him, blew his whistle violently many times; but Grim did not stir so he was run over and his head was found on one side of the track and body on the other. He even expected the engine to turn aside for him.
Not a year after Grim’s death, Juno was following the carriage and they think she stopped to eat some poison left for dogs that stole the sheep: So Juno died. She was a beautiful brown in color; and her twin brother Jove was grey and white. Jove grieved a great deal over his sister Juno and wandered about in a most aimless and sad manner. But little Jet (no. 2) the terrier was given to the family and he was greatly cheered by the little fellow. He plays with Jove, and teases him much of the time. Bites his tail and will take a mouthful of flesh into his mouth and bite and chew it; but Jove takes it all kindly. He will often put his little head in Jove’s mouth; then they both will lie asleep for some time in that position. It is very amusing to see the two, the big greyhound and the tiny terrier, so very congenial and playful. They are fond of company and will go wherever the family is seated, and then feel privileged to take the most important place just in front of the fire, and stretch themselves there at full length.
These are the only dogs in the family at present; excepting one or two barn dogs. I think Grim was about six years old.
Hoping this may be to some use to you, I am
Mary L. Hayes
Dr. Bridges also showed the exhibitors where Grim is said to be buried. It is behind the graves of President and Mrs. Hayes on Spiegel Grove’s Cemetery Point, between Old Ned and Old Whitey — the only pets whose graves are marked with boulders.
Grim and the other Hayes’ dogs were country dogs and allowed to roam free at will. Unfortunately, this freedom came at the price of a shortened lifespan.
CG F 98