The First Dog Ride

In 1903, people walked, rode bicycles or horses to travel around the community. For traveling long distances, the horse, and buggy, train or boats were the norms. Roads consisted of dirt, mud, or gravel. Chevron stations, 7–11 or Hotel 6’s hadn’t even been thought of yet. This was the time of a new invention, the “horseless carriage.” People were paralyzed with the idea of an open carriage with no windshield, a noisy engine that produced a cloud of gaging smoke. Traveling from one coast to the in this horseless carriage had never been attempted and was only of the rich and crazy! Folks couldn’t image how this could not be done. On a $50.00 bet, Dr. H. Nelson Jackson with his mechanic, 22-year-old mechanic, Sewall K. Crocker, embarked on just such a crazy adventure to travel from San Francisco to New York City. Their automobile of choice was a newly manufactured automobile in Cleveland, Ohio. This twenty-two horse powered, 2-cylender automobile was created by the Winston Motor Carriage Company. These two dare devils, set out to demonstrate that his new contraption could successfully complete the journey.

Lacking easy extensibility to parts, flat tires, crossing rivers on railroad bridges, and dusty, rut covered roads, the adventurous pair reached Caldwell Idaho. Dr. Nelson had wanted a dog to accompany them on his trip but had been able to acquire one before he set out. While in Caldwell, the Doctor purchased a bulldog for $15.00 to complete the journey with them. The bulldog, better known as Bud Nelson, was fashioned a pair of goggles to protect his eyes from flying debris and the dusty roads and sat shotgun in the Winston. Bud, quickly became famous as the first dog to ride across the US in a car! People along the way excitedly witnessed the first automobile to travel cross country with its goggled bulldog. Taking the car across the country lacking of roads and adequate support systems was an amazing feat for humans and unfathomable for a dog!

This famous feat that began in May, ended in July taking a total of 63 days, an average of 71 miles per day. Much like our dogs are today, Bud proved to be a great traveling companion. He watched the roads, learned for the bends in the road, and learned to brace for the bumpy roads.

Not only did he blaze the trail for his canine friends to ride in the car, he demonstrated the importance of protecting doggy eyes while involved in one of their most favorite activities.

Bud Nelson became a member of the Jackson family after Dr. Jackson and Sewall K. Crocker completed their journey with their adopted bulldog. Bud lived happily into old age with his new family and was often seen joyfully riding in the automobile with his master until his death from old age.

His goggles, pictures and stories are displayed today and can be viewed at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C

Originally published at

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