Presidents are not the only ones to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hundreds of pets have also made the White House their home. The White House pets have listened in on the nation’s secrets, negotiations and the presidents’ family matters. The following lists a few of these lucky Presidents’ pets.
George Washington – (1789-1797) President Washington owned over thirty dogs. Most of these dogs were used for hunting but he did have his favorites. One of Washington’s Staghounds, Vulcan, was allowed in the dining room and grabbed a ham off the dinner table. His other two Staghounds were named Sweet Lips, and Scentwell. Washington’s other hounds were named Drunkard, Tipler, Tipsy, and Taster. Blueskin and Nelson were President Washington horses.
Thomas Jefferson – (1801-1809) President Jefferson owned more pets than any other president, thirty-six in all. Some of his most unusual pets included two pet grizzly bear cubs given to him by Zebulon Pike, mockingbirds, lizards, rabbits, a pony, and a badger.
John Quincy Adams – (1825-1829) President John Adams kept a pet alligator in the East Room of the White House. He received the pet alligator from Marquis de Lafayette as a gift.
Andrew Jackson – (1829-1837) President Jackson owned a cursing parrot named Poll. The parrot caused some gaiety at the funeral of Andrew Jackson as it cursed the entire time. It’s probably as Andrew Jackson would have wanted it.
Martin Van Buren – (1837-1841) President Van Buren was the proud pet owner of two tiger cubs. The cubs were a gift from the Sultan of Oman, Kabul al-Sayeed.
Franklin Pierce – (1853-1857) Commodore Perry brought two tiny dogs back from his voyage to Japan and presented them as gifts to President Pierce. Pierce kept one of the ‘sleeve dogs’, as they were known, and offered the other toy dog to his friend, Jefferson Davis. President Pierce carried the tiny dog in his coat pocket.
James Buchanan – (1857-1861) President Buchanan owned a very large Newfoundland. It is told that Lara, the Newfoundland, slept with one eye open to protect the White House. James Buchanan also had an elephant and an eagle.
Abraham Lincoln – (1861-1865) The Lincoln home was always filled with pets. President Lincoln was very fond of cats. He allowed one of his favorite pet cats to sit in a chair next to him during a formal dinner, feeding the cat a gold fork.
William Seward, the Secretary of State gave Lincoln two kittens as gifts. President Lincoln would speak to the kittens for up to an hour. The kittens gave him great comfort in trying times.
The Lincoln’s family dog, Jip, often sat on the president’s lap during meals and was allowed to eat from the president’s plate.
Tad and Willie, President Lincoln’s two sons had two pet goats named Nanny and Nanko. The boys would hitch the goats to kitchen chairs or wheeled carts and have a ride through the White House as the goats pulled them along.
Teddy Roosevelt – (1901-1909) President Roosevelt’s pony, Algonquin, was allowed to roam around the White House. The pet pony even rode in the White House elevators.
Other famous pets of Teddy Roosevelt were Eli Yale, the macaw parrot and a bear named, Jonathan Edwards. President Roosevelt had many other pets as well, including: a Bull Terrier, Rat Terrier, Manchester terrier, Saint Bernard, Pekinese, and Chesapeake Bay retriever. There were also cats snakes, guinea pigs, a rat, and a pig named Maude.
Woodrow Wilson – (1912-1921) President Wilson owned an unusual pet. The pet was Old Ike the ram who enjoyed chewing tobacco. He also kept a flock of sheep on the White House lawn to keep the grass trimmed.
President Wilson’s more traditional pets were Puffins, the cat, Mountain Boy the Bull Terrier, and Bruce the Greyhound.
Warren Harding – (1921-1923) Laddie Boy, an Airedale terrier was President Harding’s dog. The dog had his own special chair to sit in on presidential meetings.
Laddie Boy was more popular in the public eye than the president himself. In fact, the country’s newspaper boys raised enough pennies to erect a copper statue of Laddie Boy. The fund raiser was organized by Louis Newman, a member of the Newboys Association. The pennies were melted and sculpted by Bashka Paeff. Laddie Boy’s statue can still be seen today in the Smithsonian Institute.
Calvin Coolidge – (1923-1929) Calvin Coolidge once said, “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about, does not deserve to be in the White House.” President Coolidge and his wife, Grace, loved animals and kept a large assortment of pets in the White House. The Coolidge’s owned a pet raccoon named Rebecca, two kittens named Tige and Blacky. The two cats had custom made collars with the engraved words, The White House, imprinted on them.
Peter Pan was the president’s first wired-haired Fox Terrier but the pup did not adjust well to life at the White House. He was replaced by Paul Pry, an Aeirdale, related to President Harding’s, Laddie Boy. Many other dogs lived with the Coolidges. One of the dogs, a Chow, was named Tiny Tim but dubbed Terrible Tim because of his bad behavior.
The two most well known of President Coolidge’s dogs were the Collies, Prudence Prim and Rob Roy. Rob Roy was Calvin Coolidge’s favorite dog and he wrote of the dog in his biography, “He was a stately companion of great courage and fidelity.”
President Coolidge also owned a raccoon named Rebecca that he walked on a leash and Billy, the pygmy hippo.
Franklin Roosevelt – (1933-1945) President Roosevelt owned a Scottish Terrier named “Murray the Outlaw of Falahill”. The little terrier was most commonly known as, Fala. The dog accompanied Roosevelt wherever he went, including his meeting with Winston Churchill to sign the Atlantic Charter. This historic event took place on the USS Augusta in 1941.
John Kennedy – (1961-1963) President Kennedy owned an unusual pet white rabbit named Zsa Zsa who enjoyed playing a toy trumpet. The Kennedy family also owned a pony named Macaroni. Little Caroline Kennedy was often seen riding Macaroni on the White House grounds.
Nikita Chrushchev, the Soviet Leader, gave President Kennedy a white Husky. The Husky’s name was Pushinka and it accidentally mated with Kennedy’s Welsh Terrier, Charlie. President Kennedy called the puppies, ‘Pupniks’.
Lyndon Johnson – (1963-1969) Loki, was the little, three-legged dog of President Johnson. His daughter, Lucy, found the little white dog at a gas station, abandoned and scared. She brought him home to the White House. She later said that Loki brought her father loyalty and love.
Gerald Ford – (1974-1977) President Ford was very close to his Golden Retriever, Liberty. So close, in fact, that when the dog was locked outside one night, President Ford went outside to look for him. He locked himself out of the White House too and had to bang on a window to be let back in.
Ronald Reagan – (1981-1989) President Reagan owned a Bouvier des Flandres named Lucky. This breed is similar to an English Sheepdog. The president had a luxurious dog house built for the dog by Theo Hayes. She was married to the great grandson of Rutherford Hayes.
George H. W. Bush – (1981-1989) President Bush and his wife, First Lady Barbara owned a Springer Spaniel named Millie. Millie was loved by Americans and given the name of “First Pet”. The pet Springer Spaniel made the front page of the nation’s newspapers when she gave birth to a litter of pups while living in the White House.
William Clinton – (1993-2001) President Clinton was the proud owner of Socks, the cat and a Chocolate Lab named Buddy. Buddy died in 2002. Socks the cat actually belonged to Chelsea, the President’s daughter. Both Bill Clinton and Hillary were allergic to Socks.
George W. Bush – (2001-1009) President Bush and Mrs. Bush owned two dogs. Both were Scottish Terriers, one named Barney, and the other, Miss Beazley. They also owned a Springer Spaniel named Spotty who died at fifteen years old in 2004. The president’s dogs were often seen in photographs with him as he went about his presidential duties.
Barack Obama – (2009-present) President Obama and his family got a Portuguese Water Dog named Bo, shortly after moving to the White House. People across the nation speculated at what type of dog the Obama family would choose. Bo was a gift from the late, Senator Edward Kennedy who owned three ‘porties‘ himself.
Annabel Wildrick, Do presidents need pets?, Appleseeds, Sept 2008 v11 i1 p22
Mo Rocca, “All The President’s Pets“.
Abraham Lincoln loved animals, Appleseeds, Jan 2009
Alice Furlaud, Presidential Pets Past, Weekend Edition Saturday, Dec 6, 2008