Dog Rides in Car, 1903 Edition

In 1903 a bull terrier pup named Bud began a canine tradition that lasts to this day: going for a ride. 

 tThe story starts on May 18, 1903 when Horatio Nelson Jackson, a doctor from Vermont in California for his health, made a $50 wager ($1200 in today’s money) that he couldn’t drive an automobile across the country in under 90 days. Despite having no car, almost no experience driving, and no reliable maps Jackson took the bet.

He was allowed a mechanic in the terms of the wager and he chose Sewall Crocker, 22, and charged him with choosing a suitable car. Crocker chose a 2-Cylinder, 22HP Winton Motorcar. While Crocker readied the car Jackson gathered other necessities: fishing gear, sleeping bags, rubber coats, canteens, blankets, pots and pans, gas cans (gas stations were few and far between), an axe, a spade and a pistol.

There were very few maps available, mostly basic maps made by cyclists, so the plan was to ask locals for directions. This plan became tiresome, since locals often would give them roundabout directions meant to take them by friends or family’s homes so that they could see an actual motorcar. There were other hazards early on, the car blew a tire and somewhere going down the road they lost all their cookware which fell from the back without their notice.

In Caldwell, Idaho a man offered Jackson, who had wanted a canine companion for the trip, a bull terrier pup for $15. They named the pup Bud and he quickly became a pro at riding in the open car, learning to look ahead at the road and anticipate bumps and turns. When Jackson realized the road dust was hurting Bud’s eyes he adapted some goggles for him and Bud wore them for the remainder of the journey.

Despite the obstacles and hardships Jackson, Crocker and Bud finished the road trip on July 26, 1903, sixty three days, twelve hours and thirty minutes after leaving San Francisco, well under the three months limit in his wager. Jackson once remarked that his $50 win cost him $8,000.

Bud remained with Jackson in Vermont for the rest of his days, a local celebrity riding around town with his goggles on. When asked about Bud on the road trip, Jackson said that Bud was the only one of the trio who never used profanity.

Bud’s goggles and other memorabilia from Horatio Nelson Jackson’s drive across America are on display at he Smithsonian, and filmmaker Ken Burns made a documentary about the original road trip. 

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