The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837, and the history of the University's schools and colleges. This project is part of a larger effort to prepare resources for the University's bicentennial in 2017. Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.

President Tappan's Dogs

Henry Philip Tappan
The Michigan Alumnus 12

By, Watson Ambruster, ’62, ‘64l

Whenever Dr. Tappan left his 
house for the chapel, or on his
 walks abroad, he was, in my day, 
 always accompanied by a huge yellow dog known as Leo. Towards
 the last, Leo had a fellow even
 larger and yellower, but this second 
canine companion of the President 
never enjoyed the favor in student 
circles that the first did, and I cannot recall his name. One day a
 mischievous youth, who cared little
 about Kant or Cousin, tied one of 
Leo's fore paws close to his head, 
 and the great dog went limping up
 the aisle to the Doctor's chair on 
the platform. His master quietly 
cut the cord, and then the huge 
beast placed his fore paws on the 
arm of the President's chair, and 
testified to his gratitude by licking 
the latter's cheek. Dr. Tappan, 
 without a word of reproof for the 
indignity which had been put upon
 his pet, placed one hand on the
 great dog's head, looked him in 
the face, and for half an hour dis
coursed to him on canine nature 
and the possibility of the existence 
of a canine soul. The discourse
 was as delightful as it was learned, 
 as replete with the happiest turns
 as it was with the most profound 
knowledge and the most impressive
 speculative inquiry. There was
 more than one member of the class
 who entertained the belief that Leo
 understood it all much better than 
himself.

The Michgan Alumnus
October 1901, page 12

The Humiliation of Leo



The reference, by Mr. Am
bruster, '62, to Dr. Tappan's dog, 
Leo, in the October ALUMNUS, 
 has called forth from the older 
alumni many recollections of the 
big dog's prominent place among 
the frequenters of the campus. He
 was a lordly fellow—kind and 
affectionate, but withal stern and
 uncompromising in the exaction of 
his rights. Chief among these 
rights was that of refusing to recognize as equal, much less as supe
rior any four-footed creature that
 might intrude upon the campus. 
 On the campus Leo was king of 
beasts. 


But there came a day when all 
this was changed, when Leo was 
as thoroughly scared as any com
mon cur; and from which day on 
he was no more monarch of all he
 surveyed. For after that time 
there was one spot that he carefully
 avoided.


One afternoon a class of boys, 
 among whom was W. H. H. 
 Beadle, '61, were reading a French 
comedy before Professor Fasquelle, 
 in a second story room in the
 north building. It was within a 
few minutes of the end of the hour, 
 and the translation was getting
 perilously close to the limits of 
navigation for some of the students. 
 So every joke of the innocent old 
professor was received with laughter 
loud and very, very long—with
 the result that more and more
 funny remarks were made. The 
strategy was apparently working
 very well, when aid was suddenly 
received from a most unexpected 
source. Professor Fasquelle's
 small dog—a most insignificant
 and pursy old party, who had been 
dozing through the recitation—was 
greatly agitated by the continued 
laughter. He began to bark and
 to rush up and down the little platform like the incarnation of fury. 
Professor Fasquelle tried to soothe 
him, but the uproar had stirred his
 sluggish veins as a brass band
 rouses a militiaman. He insisted on
 continuing his search for oppor
tunity to show his mettle—and he 
found it. 


As he rushed about he approached the low window ledge, 
and glanced down. There below
 was the magnificent Leo swinging 
along in all his pride. Without a
 second's hesitation, in a perfect 
ecstacy of bravado, the midget
 sprang from the window full at the
 giant below. 


Leo saw him come—and the
 sight was too much. He would
 meet any' dog that walked the 
earth; but a dog that flew was a 
mystery not to be withstood. Leo
 made a mighty leap, drawing his 
tail between his legs and uttering
 the yelp of defeat as he jumped. 
He was not quick enough to avoid
 the descending terror; it was Leo's
 yielding form that saved the spaniel 
from dashing out his life on the 
ground. But Leo did not stay to
 see what the final results might be. 
 He disappeared around the corner
 with greater speed, more noise, and
 less dignity than at any time since 
the days of his puppy-hood. And 
ever, from that moment on, he was
 a changed dog. He knew that 
he had found his master, and he 
knew not at what moment nor from
 what quarter his adversary might 
again swoop down upon him. 
 Particularly when passing the east 
side of the north wing did he abate
 his monarchical airs; here he humbly 
stepped from the path and walked
 past the spot in a circle respectfully
 large. 


And, to return to the class-room
—the boys translated no more that 
day.

The Michigan Alumnus
November 1901, page 76-77


More about Dr. Tappan's Dogs

By B. M. Cutcheon, 61, 661

Grand Rapids, Mich

Perhaps "we old fellows"
 are taking rather more than 
our fair share of the pages of the
 ALUMNUS, but please remember 
that it will not be for long. I 
have read with deep interest the 
reminiscences of the older alumni, 
and they bring back the days of the 
fifties and sixties, like delightful
 visions of long forgotten scenes. 


Mr. Ambruster's recollections of 
Dr. Tappan and his big dog Leo, 
 were especially memory - provoking. 
 But Mr. Ambruster and General 
Beadle in his recollections of '' The
 Humiliation of Leo,"-in the No
vember ALUMNUS, seem to have 
overlooked the fact that Leo had a
 mate, called "Buff," from his
 color. The fellows who were in 
the habit of attending-chapel from
1858 to 1861 will remember Buff. 
 He was not so big as Leo, or so 
stately; but he was a fine dog 
himself. At chapel exercises the 
two followed the Chancellor into 
the chapel and posted themselves, 
Leo on the right and Buff on the 
left of his chair. They always be
haved with entire decorum during 
the exercises, and with a "stately 
and majestic tread" followed the 
Chancellor out when he withdrew. 
One might parody the song of 
Mary and her Lamb and say:


Everywhere the Doctor went

The dogs were sure to go. 


These dogs were '' celebrated in
 song and story,'' and this may serve 
to bring back to recollection the 
name of Leo's forgotten mate. About 1859 there began to be 
known in the University a song de-
signed to celebrate individually the
 members of the faculty—then not 
too numerous for that treatment. 
There was one verse (and only 
one) for each full professor. It 
was constructed as a parody upon 
the well-known camp-meeting
 song, "The Hebrew Children, "
beginning, 


"Where, oh, where are the Hebrew 
children? 

Where, oh, where are the Hebrew 
children? 

Where, oh, where are the Hebrew 
children? 

Away over in the Promised Land. 

They went up through a fiery fur
nace,

Etc., etc."


This University song, which 
about 1860 became vastly popular, 
was devoted to hitting off some 
peculiarity or idiosyncrasy of the 
several members of the faculty. 
 The first verse was, of course, de-
voted to Dr. Tappan, and after 
inquiring with deep solicitude three 
times,


"Where, oh, where is Doctor Tappan?” and answering, 

"Away over in the Promised Land,” then came the asseveration thrice 
repeated,


"He went up on Buff and Leo,
He went up on Buff and Leo, 

He went up on Buff and Leo, 

Away over to the Promised Land."


There was a verse each for Pro
fessor Williams (not by that name, 
 however), for Professor Boise 
(Greek), Professor Frieze (Latin), 
 Professor White (history), Profes
sor Winchell (sciences), Professor Watson (astronomy), and 
Professor Fasquelle (French), who
 was alleged to have '' gone up ''
on his emphasis. The old-
timers will understand this, as Pro
fessor Fasquelle was popularly believed to have said that he never
 could learn to speak the English
 with the proper emphasis. 


I hope it may not be thought un 
seemly to now recall this once familiar song, since every one of that
 faculty, except Ambassador White, 
 has long since "gone up" to a 
great reward on the merits of a
 noble and useful life. 
I am not able to record the later 
history of Buff and Leo. It may 
be that they went abroad with their 
honored master, and perhaps they 
sleep with him by the side of the
 swift-flowing Aare, and within the
 shadows of the snow-crowned Alps. 


The Michigan Alumnus
December 1901, page 121-122