On this President’s Day, we honor those who have sat, lay down, and rolled-over in the Oval Office of the White House – the Presidential Pets of the United States of America!
Over the USA’s long history, the President of the United States has almost always had an animal companion to keep him company. From cats and dogs to goats and bears, our Presidents have had a menagerie of animals living with them. Let’s learn a little Presidential Pet history, shall we?
George Washington (President from 1789-1797)
George Washington had many pets during his time as President including 7 dogs, a donkey that was given as a royal gift, and even a parrot! His most beloved animal, however, was his horse Nelson (as seen in this painting below).
Thomas Jefferson (President from 1801-1809)
Thomas Jefferson had two dogs while during his Presidency for the United States but he is most remembered for having 2 bear cubs live at the White House.
(Not his actual bears but super cute!)
Many Presidents owned horses which they kept at the White House stables (I didn’t even know they had stables!) The following Presidents all had horses during their time:
John Adams owned a horse named Cleopatra.
Andrew Jackson owned Bolivia, Emily, Lady Nashville, Sam Patches, and Truxton – all horses he would ride frequently.
John Tyler’s horse was named ‘The General.’
Ulysses S. Grant owned Butcher Boy, Cincinnatus (a gift from the citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio), Egypt, Jeff Davis (his civil wartime mount), Jennie, Julia, Mary, and St. Louis.
Ulysses S. Grant with Cincinnatus
The Presidential stables, while convenient at the time, have all gone through rough patches. Each stable built had either been burned down or was torn down to make room for another building. The last of the White House stables was demolished in 1911.
Rutherford B. Hayes (President from 1877-1881)
President Hayes was very fond of dogs and owned 8 dogs during his time as President. More importantly, however, President Hayes had a very special cat, Siam, who was the first Siamese Cat to be brought to the United States. David B. Sickels, a United States diplomat at the consulate in Bangkok, decided to send Siam to the President’s family as a gift. The letter below describes the cat in 1878.
Theodore Roosevelt (President from 1901 – 1909)
Of all the Presidents in the history of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt had the most companion animals living with him at the White House. Could you imagine running the country while having all of these animals: 5 Guinea pigs, 2 ponies, a hen, a one-legged rooster, a lizard named ‘Bill,’ 10 dogs, a snake, a badger, 2 bears, a Blue Macaw, a rabbit, 2 cats, and a barn owl!
He was always known to love nature and to cherish animals as you can see from this photo:
Warren G. Harding (President from 1921-1923)
Warren G. Harding, a President known for scandals actually had one of the first ‘celebrity’ dogs of the White House, Laddie Boy. Laddie Boy was an Airedale Terrier who had his own hand carved chair to sit in during cabinet meetings. The White House held birthday parties for Laddie Boy and invited other neighborhood dogs to join. Newspapers even published mock interviews with the dog.
Calvin Coolidge (President from 1923-1929)
President Coolidge practically had a zoo while living at the White House! Some of his most famous animal companions included 2 raccoons, a bobcat, 2 lion cubs named ‘Tax Reduction’ and ‘Budget Bureau,’ and a pygmy hippopotamus named ‘Billy’! Billy is most notably a common ancestor to almost all current pygmy hippos in zoos across the country. President Coolidge also had many domestic pets that he was very fond of.
President Coolidge with wife and dog.
Getting towards more current times, here are the most well-known Presidential Pets in the post WWII-era:
President Dwight Eisenhower walks by Heidi, his Weimaraner, as he returns to the White House following a press conference on March 11, 1959 at the Executive Office Building.
President John F. Kennedy (1961-63) spends some time at the White House with his children, Caroline and John Jr., and their pony, Macaroni.
President Lyndon Johnson (1963-68) and his beloved Yuki, a dog his daughter found on the side of the road in Texas and gave her father as a gift, liked to sing together in the Oval Office.
President Richard Nixon (1969-1974) relaxing with his poodle Vickie & his Cocker Spaniel Checkers. President Nixon also owned a Yorkshire Terrier named Pasha.
President Gerald R. Ford (1974-77) acquired Liberty, a Golden Retriever, as a puppy in the fall of 1974. She grew up in the White House and even gave birth to her first litter of puppies there.
President Jimmy Carter (1977-81) and Rosalynn Carter play with their dog ‘Grits’ on the south lawn of the White House.
President Ronald Reagan (1981-89) and his wife Nancy on a walk with Rex, their King Charles spaniel.
President George H. W. Bush (1989-93) walks onto the White House lawn with his Springer Spaniel, Millie, and Millie’s new puppies. One of the puppies is Spot, who would later live at the White House as President George W. Bush’s dog.
President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) owned two pets, a cat named Socks and a dog named Buddy.
President George W. Bush (2001-09) walks with his two Scottish Terriers Barney and Miss Beazley.
Currently, President Barack Obama has two Portugese water dogs – Bo and Sunny – who help teach children about being active and staying in shape.
As you can see, all of our nation’s Presidents love sharing their home with an animal companion.
Have a wonderful President’s Day!
If you are looking for a special animal companion, come down to the Houston SPCA to find your new forever friend!
Don’t forget to visit our website: www.HoustonSPCA.org