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Bummer and Lazarus/ San Francisco's Most Famous Dogs

Born: Both dogs were strays, birth dates unknown
Died: Lazarus died October 1863 and Bummer in November 1865
Famous For: Their bond, killing rats and exemption from city ordinances regarding strays

Bummer and Lazarus were famous in their time and frequently found their exploits written about in the most popular newspapers in San Francisco. Bummer was probably a Newfoundland cross and he arrived at the doorstep of Frederick Martin's saloon in 1860. There being too many stray dogs and cats in the burgeoning Gold Rush city already, unless a dog had an unusual talent for killing rats, he was most likely done away with himself. Bummer immediately began to demonstrate his talent for rodent extermination and therefore put himself in the good graces of not only the saloon owner, but of all the local merchants as well. What did he ask for in return? Handouts, food from all the grateful rat-less shopkeepers.
Bummer and Lazarus

One year later, Bummer rescued a dog whose leg was severely bitten, from a viscious dog fight. He nursed that poor mongrel to health by bringing him food and keeping him warm at night, and this dog became Bummer's sidekick. He was named Lazarus by the community, based upon his remarkable recovery. Lazarus turned out to be an equally prodigious rodent-ridder and the two companions called the saloon headquarters although they freely roamed the streets. Soon newspapermen began to hang about the saloon just to pick up a good story about Bummer and Lazarus's latest escapade. Sometimes they snuck into shops unbeknownst to the owner and inadvertently were locked in overnight. There ensued an awful trashing of the joint, which once occurred in a jewelry store.

The most remarkable exploit the two engaged in, took place the day they stopped a runaway horse and cart on Clay Street. These buddies were officially exempt from all animal control ordinances in the city, given the freedom to roam at will and be fed whenever and wherever they stopped to beg for food.

A plaque, immortalizing Bummer and Lazarus can be found in the Transamerica Redwood Park adjacent to the Transamerica Pyramid at 600 Montgomery Street between Clay and Merchant.

Bummer and Lazarus

Mark Twain wrote a eulogy when Bummer died, for the Virginia City Enterprise newspaper, which was reprinted in the Californian on November 11, 1865. Click on the link below: