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United States presidential pets

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grace Coolidge with Laddie Boy, an Airedale Terrier, and Rob Roy, a white Collie
Grace Coolidge with Laddie Boy, an Airedale Terrier, and Rob Roy, a white Collie

United States presidents have often kept pets while in office, or pets have been part of their families.[1] Donald Trump is the first president since James K. Polk to not have a presidential pet while in office.[2]

History of White House pets

The first White House dog to receive regular newspaper coverage was Warren G. Harding's dog Laddie Boy.[3]

Pets also featured on presidential elections. Herbert Hoover got a "Belgian Police Dog" (Belgian Malinois),[4] King Tut, during his campaign and pictures of him with his new dog were sent all across the United States.

In 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for his fourth term when rumors surfaced that his Scottish Terrier, Fala, had accidentally been left behind when visiting the Aleutian Islands. After allegedly sending back ships to rescue his dog, Roosevelt was ridiculed and accused of spending thousands of taxpayers' dollars to retrieve his dog. At a speech following this Roosevelt said, "you can criticize me, my wife and my family, but you can't criticize my little dog. He's Scotch and all these allegations about spending all this money have just made his little soul furious."[5] What was later called the "Fala speech" reportedly helped secure reelection for Roosevelt.[6]

Miss Beazley, a Scottish Terrier given to Laura Bush by her husband

Richard Nixon was accused of hiding a secret slush fund during his candidacy for vice president under Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. He gave the televised "Checkers speech" named after his cocker spaniel, denying he had a slush fund but admitting, "there is one thing that I did get as a gift that I'm not going to give back."[7] The gift was a black-and-white cocker spaniel, Checkers, given to his daughters. Although there had been talk of Nixon being dropped from the ticket, following his speech he received an increase in support and Mamie Eisenhower reportedly recommended he stay because he was "such a warm person."[8][9]

Animal lovers were upset when President Lyndon B. Johnson was photographed picking his two beagles, named Him and Her, up by their ears. Others did not understand the uproar; former president Harry S. Truman said, "What the hell are the critics complaining about; that's how you handle hounds."[7]

Bill Clinton moved into the White House with Socks, a tuxedo cat, who in 1991 was reported to have jumped into the arms of Chelsea Clinton after piano lessons while the Clintons were living in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was later joined in 1997 by Buddy, a Labrador Retriever, during Clinton's second term.[10] The two reportedly did not get along, with Clinton later saying "I did better with the Palestinians and the Israelis than I've done with Socks and Buddy" while Hillary Clinton said Socks "despised" Buddy at first sight.[11] The two were, however, the subject of a book, Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets written by then First Lady Hillary Clinton and appeared as cartoons in the kids' section of the first-ever White House website.[12]

While George W. Bush was president, he had three dogs and a cat at the White House.[13] Among the canines was Spot Fetcher, an English Springer Spaniel and the offspring of George H. W. Bush's dog, Millie.[14] This made Spotty the first animal to live in the White House under two different administrations, having been born at the executive mansion in 1989 and passed away there in 2004.[15]

Barack and Michelle Obama were without pets prior to the 2008 election, but promised their daughters they could get a dog when the family moved into the White House.[16] They selected Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, partly due to Malia Obama's allergies and the need for a hypoallergenic pet.[17] The puppy was a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy[18] and was later joined by Sunny, a female of the same breed.[19] Bo was featured in the 2010 children's book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, written by President Obama with illustrations by Loren Long.[20]

List of presidential pets

In addition to traditional pets, this list includes some animals normally considered livestock or working animals that have a close association with presidents or their families. Presidents have often been given exotic animals from foreign dignitaries; occasionally these are kept, but often they are promptly donated to a zoo.

President Pet(s)
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
  • Old Whitey – horse[key 2] Taylor's wartime mount
  • Apollo – Pony;[key 2] formerly a "trick pony" from a circus, a present for Taylor's daughter Betty and resided in the White House stables with Old Whitey[49]
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Old Bob caparisoned in a mourning blanket at Abraham Lincoln's funeral
Old Bob caparisoned in a mourning blanket at Abraham Lincoln's funeral
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Whiskers pulling a cart at the White House, with Russell Harrison and his children
Dash in front of his doghouse
  • Whiskers ("His Whiskers," or "Old Whiskers") – goat,[29][61] kept at the White House for the president's grandchildren; may have belonged to Russell Harrison[62]
  • Dash – collie[25]
  • Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection – opossums,[63] named from the 1896 Republican party platform,[64] which includes: "Protection and reciprocity are twin measures of Republican policy and go hand in hand."[65]
  • Two alligators – According to one account, Russell Harrison kept two alligators in the White House conservatory[66]
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Archie riding Algonquin
Archie riding Algonquin
Roosevelt family with Skip
Roosevelt family with Skip
Illustration of Slippers, the White House cat[f]
Illustration of Slippers, the White House cat[f]
William Howard Taft
  • Caruso – dog,[key 2] a gift for Taft's daughter Helen from opera singer Enrico Caruso; after a White House performance, he decided that cows were not appropriate pets for a little girl[80]
  • Mooly Wooly[key 2] and Pauline Wayne – Cows. Pauline (or "Miss Wayne") was a Holstein of considerable fame; she "went missing" for two days.[81]
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Laddie Boy
Laddie Boy
Calvin Coolidge
Portrait of Rob Roy and Grace Coolidge
Portrait of Rob Roy and Grace Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover with King Tut
Herbert Hoover with King Tut
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR and Fala (1940)
FDR and Fala (1940)
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Kennedy family and dogs
Kennedy family and dogs
Lyndon B. Johnson
LBJ with Him
LBJ with Him
Richard Nixon
King Timahoe, Vicki and Pasha looking out the window in the White House
Gerald Ford
Susan Ford, daughter of Gerald Ford, and the family's siamese cat, Shan, in 1974
Ford and Liberty in the Oval Office
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Rex
Ronald Reagan on El Alamein
George H. W. Bush
Millie
Millie
Bill Clinton
Socks
Socks
George W. Bush
India
India
Barack Obama
Bo and Sunny
Bo and Sunny
Donald Trump
Key
  1. ^ a b c d e f g Number unknown
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Breed unknown
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Species unknown
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Name unknown

See also

Further reading

  • Truman, Margaret (1969). White House Pets OCLC 70279; eBook (2016) ISBN 9781612309392

Notes

  1. ^ Washington was an avid dog breeder; he called the breed that he was developing "Virginia Hounds"; which eventually became American Foxhounds[23][24]
  2. ^ Some sources reference the name "Polly"[30]
  3. ^ The East Room was still under repair following the 1814 burning of the White House by the British, and was primarily used for storage. During the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to the United States, Lafayette acquired several tons of gifts (including the alligator) that was stored there.[42][43] much to the consternation of visitors.[44] Possibly sent to France aboard the USS Brandywine
  4. ^ See: Conveying Marquis de Lafayette to France
  5. ^ Number uncertain, perhaps received as many as seven. "Pierce was thought to have kept one dog, and he gave the other to his Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. Davis was particularly pleased with the dog and was known to have carried it with him in his pocket."[50]
  6. ^ Illustration from St. Nicholas (1908); original caption: "With an amused bow, the President escorted the Ambassadress around 'Slippers' and kept on his way toward the East Room."[67]
  7. ^ Checkers died in 1964, before Nixon became president, but had played a major role in his electoral career

References

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