Bum the Dog Kids Club

Bum the Dog Kid’s Club is for kids 5 – 11 who want to learn more about their community and its colorful history. By joining our Kid’s Club you will find fun games and activities, learn about this wonderful community we live in, and learn while having fun!

Bum the Dog Kids Club members receive:

  • A dog tag with the Kids Club Logo
  • $1 off admission to the San Diego History Center
  • 15% discount on Bum the Dog books and plush toys at the Museum Store
  • Invitations to special Kids Club programs and events throughout the year

Bum the Dog Kids Club members can also:

  • Learn about Bum the Dog’s amazing history as San Diego’s official dog.
  • Download Bum the Dog activity sheets with special San Diego trivia for kids, games, coloring pages and information about upcoming kid programs at the History Center.
  • Find Bum: Visit the museum monthly to discover where Bum is hiding in the galleries. Win a prize if you find him!


From 1886-1891, Bum the Dog was San Diego’s official town dog! Bum, a St. Bernard-Spaniel mix, arrived in San Diego on July 3, 1886 as a stowaway aboard the steamship Santa Rosa from San Francisco. Bum found he liked San Diego, as did the townspeople, who quickly adopted him as an ambassador for our growing city.

Bum’s story was told in a local newspaper column, The Weekly Drift, whose author started referring to him as Bum the Dog, and the name stuck. Bum lived in New Town (present-day downtown), the city center teeming with restaurants and saloons. Bum was given beer to drink instead of water, and in his drunken state, often picked fights with other dogs including one that resulted in the loss of his front right paw, when he and the dog rolled in front of a train. Bum was also kicked by a horse which led him to reform his behavior. Bum was taken in by Ah Wo Sue, a Chinese businessman, who cared for him while he recovered.

After he healed, Bum began traveling to nearby cities like Los Angeles by himself. Bum took the train, and telegram operators along the route would message ahead that Bum was onboard. Ironically, Bum was not a licensed dog, so he could be caught at any time and put in the local pound. The city finally gave him a lifetime dog tag. They even put Bum’s picture on the dog license receipts in 1891!

Sadly, Bum died on November 10, 1898 at the County Poor Farm in Mission Valley. He was 11 years old. San Diego children, saddened by his death, collected pennies that were used for a large public funeral for Bum. Bum’s memory lives on as the mascot for the San Diego History Center’s Kid’s Club.