Chip, the terrier that stole Roosevelt’s heart
Registrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum
During the spring of 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt came to the Divide Creek area near Silt and New Castle. His mission was to hunt bear and bobcat, while at the same time making observations he would use to formulate land-use and conservation policies. While his goals seemed straightforward, an event happened that the president could not have foreseen: He acquired a new pet for the Roosevelt family.
While corresponding to his children during the hunt, Roosevelt wrote of “an absurd little terrier named Skip.” This little dog, owned by hunting guide John Goff, possessed intelligence and affection. He could run with the best of Goff’s hounds, but had a knack for begging horseback rides with members of the hunting party. The quality catching Roosevelt’s eye, however, was Skip’s tenacity. “When there is a bear or lynx at bay,” wrote Roosevelt, “he (Skip) joins in the fight with all the fury of a bull dog.”
Roosevelt’s Divide Creek hunt began in April 1905, and, by the hunt’s end in early May, Skip had adopted the president. When the president’s train left Glenwood Springs bound for Washington, D.C., in the early morning hours of May 8, Goff’s little hunting dog was on board.
Skip joined a menagerie of animals owned by the Roosevelt family. As he acclimated to his new surroundings, he became a playful companion to 11-year-old son Archie. The two were often seen racing through the White House halls. However, after the children retired in the evening, Skip sought out the lap of his original friend, the president, for a quiet sleep.
President Roosevelt penned an acknowledgement of Skip’s death in 1907, saying in part, “he had a happy little life.” This former hunting dog turned presidential companion proved it takes more than pedigree to gain attention.
“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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