Bummer Meets Lazarus

The following report appeared in a San Francisco newspaper, The Alta California, on January 18 1861 and explains how these two stray dogs met. This was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until Lazarus died in October 1863. A lengthy obituary in The Daily Evening Bulletin referred to Bummer and Lazarus as “two dogs with but a single bark, two tails that wagged as one.”  

Bummer (right) and Lazarus (left)
Illustration © 1984 Malcolm E. Barker

One of the features of San Francisco is a specimen of the canine race—a black Newfoundland dog, known by the significant cognomen of “Bummer.” Nobody is able to say, with certainty, who the animal belongs to, where he came from, or who was his master originally. All that is known is, that he made his appearance on the sidewalk of Montgomery street immediately after the death of his predecessor “Bruno,” whose taking off by strychnine, about a year ago, was extensively commented upon by the press. “Bruno” was no less a bummer, i.e. “loafer,” than his successor—but “peace to his mange,” as was said at the time of his death. “Bummer” has the run of all the restaurants and lunch tables, and knows by instinct the hour of lunch. He is universally recognized, and manages to pick up a living by hook or by crook among his numerous friends. His beat is on the east side of Montgomery between Washington and Sacramento streets. The dog actually knows every saloon on that entire beat. But he has shown another trait, within a few days, which does him no little credit. “Bummer” can take his own part, and, if needs be, take that of any poor acquaintance who may need assistance.

Three or four days ago, a poor, lean, mangy cur was attacked in the street by a larger dog, and was getting unmercifully walloped, when “Bummer’s” ire being aroused at the unequal contest, he rushed in and gave the attacking canine such a rough handling that he was glad to quit the field yelping, and making the best dog time on record.

The poor cur had one of his legs half bitten through, and having limped upon the sidewalk, he proceeded to scrape an acquaintance with his deliverer, “Bummer,” who thenceforth took him under his special protection. Every night since, that the “twa dogs” have slept coiled up together, close to some doorway—Bummer always giving the lame cur the inside berth, and trying to keep him as warm as possible. All day, yesterday, as Bummer walked deliberately up and down his beat, looking into people’s faces to see if he could recognize an acquaintance or a lunch-eater, the cur limped to and fro with him, evidently placing the highest confidence in his companion’s proceedings, and counting him as his friend and protector. Bummer seemed to feel the weight of the responsibility, and regarded his sorry looking protégé with pity, not unmingled by contempt at his woe-begone appearance. The two were seen huddled up together in the most fraternal manner, last night after 12 o’clock.

The above is one of many original newspaper accounts reprinted in Malcolm E. Barker’s book, Bummer & Lazarus: San Francisco’s Famous Dogs (Londonborn Publications, San Francisco, 2001).

Home ] Up ] Bummer & Lazarus: The truth ] [ Bummer Meets Lazarus ] Bummer & Lazarus details ]