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United States presidential pets

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Socks the cat at the podium in the White House Press Briefing Room in 1993
Grace Coolidge with Laddie Boy, an Airedale Terrier, and Rob Roy, a white Collie

United States Presidents and their families have often had pets while serving in office.[1]

History of White House dogs[edit]

The first White House dog to receive regular newspaper coverage was Warren G. Harding's dog Laddie Boy.[2]

Pets also featured on presidential elections. Herbert Hoover got a Belgian shepherd dog, 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."[3] What was later called the "Fala Speech" reportedly helped secure re-election for Roosevelt.[4]

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."[5] 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."[6][7]

Animal lovers were upset when President Lyndon B. Johnson was photographed picking his two Beagle dogs 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."[5]

List of Presidential pets[edit]

President Pet(s)
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
  • Polly – Parrot, outlived both James And Dolley Madison[17]
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
  • Briefly owned two tiger cubs given to him by the Sultan of Oman before Congress forced him to donate the tigers to the zoo[27][28]
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
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,[16][39] kept at the White House for the president's grandchildren; may have belonged to Russell Harrison[40]
  • Dash – Collie[12]
  • Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection – Opossums,[41] named from the 1896 Republican party platform,[42] which includes: "Protection and reciprocity are twin measures of Republican policy and go hand in hand."[43]
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Archie riding Algonquin
Roosevelt family with Skip
Illustration of Slippers, the White House cat[nb 4]
William Howard Taft
  • Caruso – Dog,[ps 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[54]
  • Mooly Wooly and Pauline Wayne – Cows[ps 2]
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Laddie Boy
Calvin Coolidge
Portrait of Rob Roy and Grace Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover with King Tut
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR and Fala (1940)
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Gabby – parakeet[67]
  • Heidi – weimaraner[68]
John F. Kennedy
Kennedy family and dogs
Lyndon B. Johnson
LBJ with Him
Richard Nixon
King Timahoe, Vicki and Pasha looking out the window in the White House
Gerald Ford
Susan Ford & Shan the Siamese cat
Susan Ford, daughter of Gerald Ford, and the family's siamese cat, Shan, in 1974
Ford and Liberty in the Oval Office
Ford and Liberty in the Oval Office
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Reagan family pet spaniel, Rex
Rex
Ronald Reagan on El Alamein
Ronald Reagan on El Alamein
George H. W. Bush
Millie
Bill Clinton
Socks
George W. Bush
India
Barack Obama
Bo and Sunny
Donald Trump
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h 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 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 p Name unknown

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Washington was an avid dog breeder; he called the breed that he was developing "Virginia Hounds" which became the American Foxhound
  2. ^ Some sources reference the name "Polly"[17]
  3. ^ 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."[30]
  4. ^ 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."[44]
  5. ^ Checkers died in 1964, before Nixon became president, but had played a major role in his electoral career

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Famous and Forgotten, Toledo’s Laddie Boy, The First Presidential Pet Archived August 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "1944 Radio News, 1944-09-23 FDR Teamsters Union Address – Fala (27:45–30:08)". Internet Archive. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Fala, the dog who helped win a presidential election". National Constitution Center. September 23, 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Presidential pets of the past". K-state.edu. September 23, 1952. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ DVM: The Newsmagazine of Veterinary Medicine; Oct2008, Vol. 39 Issue 10, p22-22, 2/3p
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  10. ^ "American Foxhound History & Training/Temperament". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
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  12. ^ 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 ah Choron, 20.
  13. ^ Mary V. Thompson. "Donkeys". George Washington's Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Retrieved 1 February 2018. 
  14. ^ Mary Brigid Barrett. "Presidential Menageries: Washington's Mules and Hounds". Our White House. The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
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  40. ^ Kelly, Kate (25 August 2013). "The Pets in the Benjamin Harrison White House". America Comes Alive. Retrieved 26 January 2018. 
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  43. ^ "1896: The Republican Platform". projects.vassar.edu. Vassar College. Retrieved 11 May 2018. 
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  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The Roosevelt Pets". National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved December 21, 2012. (Reprinted from the National Archives and Records Administration) 
  46. ^ McClintock, J. N. (1904). New England Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly, Volume 29. Boston: America Company. p. 601. 
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  49. ^ Thompson, Madeleine (15 September 2015). "A Small Bear Named Jonathan Edwards". WCS Archives Blog. Wildlife Conservation Society. Retrieved 4 February 2018. 
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External links[edit]