Today is President's Day. In honor of our nation's leaders, I thought I'd give a briefing on the animals which made their home with America's first families. Those creatures have been as diverse as their humans, with representatives from various types and breeds.
The first “first dogs” were foxhounds. It’s been said the father of our country, George Washington, owned as many as 10, including one named Sweetlips!
James Buchanan, Ulysses Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes kept Newfoundlands at the White House.
Both Benjamin Harrison and Calvin Coolidge owned collies.
Teddy Roosevelt owned a variety of dogs, from small (Pekingese) to very large (St. Bernard).
Warren Harding’s Airedale, “Laddie Boy”, is still seen today thanks to a statue of the terrier in the Smithsonian.
Franklin Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier, Fala, supposedly received more fan mail than most presidents. FDR had other dogs as well, including Irish Setters, a German Shepherd, a Great Dane, and a Bull Mastiff.
Scottish terriers seem to be a popular breed with American Presidents. Others who had Scotties at the White House include Dwight D. Eisenhower and George W. Bush, who had two: Barney and Beazley.
Bill Clinton had his Chocolate Labrador Retriever buddy appropriately name Buddy.
Lyndon Johnson’s dog of choice was the beagle – he had three of them, named Him, Her, and Edgar! He received a lot of criticism when he lifted the dogs by their ears.
John F. Kennedy owned, not surprisingly, an Irish Wolfhound. He also had a Welsh terrier, an English Cocker Spaniel, and a German Shepherd.
Gerald Ford’s dog breed of choice was a Golden Retriever, appropriately named Liberty.
The current president, Barack Obama, and his family welcomed their first dog, Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, not long after entering the White House themselves. The first family added a second PWD, named Sunny.
A previous Montana governor had a famous dog at the capitol: Jag, a border collie owned by Governor Brian Schweitzer. Like Millie Bush, Jag has a book about himself and his role as First Dog of Montana!
The White House has been home for an array of other pets, including the Clintons’ cat, Socks, the Fords’ cat, Shan, and a multitude of hamsters, birds, even livestock, including a donkey owned by Coolidge, and lots of horses, including Bleistein, Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite horse.
The Kennedys were well noted for their menagerie, which included Caroline’s pony Macaroni, Sardar, Jacqueline’s horse, and a rabbit named Zsa Zsa.
Other presidents, such as Coolidge and Teddy Roosevelt, had an array of wildlife from America and abroad, including bears, opossums, raccoons, alligators, even a pygmy hippo!
Learn more about America’s presidents and their animal pals at the following websites:
HAPPY PRESIDENT'S DAY to all!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.