America’s first families have often included first pets. It hasn’t always been dogs either. Presidents have had everything from goats to mice to alligators to keep them company in the White House.
As presidential dogs Bo and Sunny prepare to leave the White House with the Obamas here’s a look back at some of the presidential pets who have occupied the big house.
Photo: Presidential dog Bo climbing the stairs of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for a flight to Chicago with President Barack Obama, Aug. 4, 2010.
The Obamas’ first pet was a Portuguese water dog named Bo, who joined the family on April 14, 2009. The six-month-old puppy was a gift from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) who owned several Portuguese water dogs himself. The breed of dog is considered an ideal pet for children who have allergies, as youngest daughter Malia does.
The search for the nation’s first dog became a national obsession with countless people chiming in on what breed of dog the Obamas should get.
In this photo, children from the Early Childhood Academy Public Charter School voted for the breed the Obamas should choose at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2008.
White House dogs Bo and Sunny
Sunny (L), a female Portuguese water dog, moved into the White House in 2013, joining older brother Bo (R).
George W. Bush and Laura Bush
President Bush, with first lady Laura Bush, carries his dog Barney off of Air Force One at Andrew Air Force Base in Maryland, Jan. 3, 2004.
The couple had two dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley, both Scottish terriers. They also had Spot, an offspring of former White House dog Millie and India (“Willie”) the cat.
Chelsea Clinton’s unperturbed cat “Socks” is inundated with the attention of photographers on the sidewalk outside the fenced Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock as the family prepared to move to the White House in 1992.
First puppy Buddy
President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton with first puppy Buddy as they leave the White House for a presidential retreat at Camp David, March 13, 1998. Buddy, named after the president’s late great-uncle, was a late arrival during Clinton’s presidency. Buddy and Socks the cat famously did not get along and required separate quarters.
In 1998, Hillary Clinton wrote a children’s book titled, “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets.”
Millie was an author
President and first lady Barbara Bush walk with their English springer spaniel, Millie, across the South Lawn as they return to the White House, Aug. 24, 1992. Millie, had puppies during her White House years.
“Millie’s Book, As Dictated to Barbara Bush” was a best-seller that outsold President Bush’s own memoirs.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan
President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan were joined in the White House by their dog Lucky, a Bouvier des Flandres sheepdog. Lucky was later sent to their ranch as she grew too big, and Rex, a King Charles Cavalier spaniel, moved into the White House.
Misty Malary Ying Yang
President Jimmy Carter’s daughter, Amy, had a Siamese cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang. The Carters also had Grits the dog and Lewis Brown, and Afghan hound.
Gerald Ford; Susan Ford; Gerald R. Ford
President Gerald Ford and his daughter, Susan, on the South Lawn of the White House with their dog, Liberty, Oct. 7, 1974.
Susan enlisted White House photographer David Hume Kennerly in the search for a dog. Kennerly reportedly had a tough time convincing a Minneapolis breeder the dog would go to a good home and finally had to admit he was looking for a dog for the White House.
First lady Betty Ford and family pet Liberty play with Liberty’s litter of pups at the White House. The family also had Shan, Susan’s Siamese cat. Photos of the puppies were in high demand and according to presidentialpetmuseum.com White House staff made a rubber stamp of Liberty’s paw print to “sign” the requests.
Nixon and Checkers
President Richard Nixon’s dog, Checkers, is credited with saving his political career. In 1952, Nixon defended his candidacy for vice president when a story spread that he had a secret slush fund. In a nationally televised address, Nixon did admit to taking one “gift” - his dog. “The kids love the dog, and we’re going to keep it!” an emotional Nixon said in an outburst known to this day as the Checkers speech.
President Lyndon Johnson with his white collie, Blanco, in the Oval Office on Oct. 6, 1965. The Johnsons also had beagles, Him and Her, Edgar, a mutt (née J. Edgar), Yuki, another mutt and last, but not least puppies sired by Him named Freckles and Kim, a few hamsters and lovebirds.
Edgar was given to the president by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
Lyndon Johnson and his dog
When President Lyndon Johnson was seen holding his dog Her by the ears on April 27, 1964, on the White House lawn dog lovers were in an uproar.
Kennedy's pony Macaroni
President John F. Kennedy spends some time at the White House with his children, Caroline and John Jr., and their pony, Macaroni -- one of many pets that joined the family at the White House. The Kennedys had a large family of pets with more than 15 occupying the White House in their short tenure, including Pushinka, a mixed breed dog, who was a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev.
Ike Weimaraner Heidi
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 (now named the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in memory of the 34th president). Eisenhower also had a parakeet, named Gabby.
First Lady Grace Coolidge plays with her dogs at the White House. Grace Coolidge was so fond of her white collie, Rob Roy, that she included him in her official portrait, which hangs in the China Room in the White House. The family had a menagerie which included racoons, a pigmy hippo and lion cubs.
Hoover's King Tut
President Herbert Hoover poses with his dog, King Tut. “Ever since President Hoover there have been dogs at the White House who have been major photographic stars,” says William Bushong, historian at The White House Historical Association and curator of their exhibit on White House pets.
Hoover had nine dogs in total. His son, Allan Henry Hoover, kept a pair of alligators, sometimes seen crawling around the White House grounds.
Feller, a five-week-old cocker spaniel puppy, sent by a woman from President Harry Truman’s home state of Missouri as a gift, poses beside his crate in a White House corridor, Dec. 22, 1947. Poor Feller was the “unwanted dog” and not long for a life as a presidential pet. Dog lovers were not happy when Truman gave Feller away to his personal physician, preferring to a be “pet-free family,” according to the Truman Library.
Fala, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier, received more mail than many presidents and had his own secretary. A statue of the pooch is also part of FDR’s presidential memorial in Washington, D.C.
The ever faithful Fala was with FDR when he died and attended his funeral. A 1942 movie chronicled the pooch’s life in Hyde Park post-White House. Upon his death, Fala was buried in the White House Rose Garden in 1952.
The Roosevelt's Algonquin
Archie Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt, poses with Algonquin, a calico pony, June 17, 1902. Algonquin once rode in the White House elevator, courtesy of Kermit and Quentin Roosevelt, to visit Archie when he was ill.
The Roosevelts were an animal loving family. Their six children and large number of pets made for a full White House. They may have had the most unusual range of pets too, including a lizard named Bill, Maude the pig, a “small” bear named Jonathan Edwards and a one-legged rooster. Not to forsake traditional pets, the family also had a slew of dogs--Sailor Boy, Skip, Jack, Pete and Manchu. Pete, a bull terrier, was exiled to Long Island after chomping on one too many legs.
His Whiskers the goat
This 1891 photo shows President Benjamin Harrison with pet billy goat His Whiskers (or Old Whiskers), belonging to his grandchildren who lived at the White House. One day, while pulling the president’s grandchildren around in a cart, Whiskers took off through the White House gates. President Harrison, decked out in a top hat and waving a cane, was seen by D.C. residents chasing him in hot pursuit.
President William Howard Taft’s cow, Pauline, was the last cow to live at the White House and provided milk for President Taft during his presidency.
The Lincoln's Fido
Tad, son of President Abraham Lincoln, is pictured riding one of his two ponies. The president’s beloved dog, Fido, was killed by a knife-wielding drunk.
Long before it became an annual tradition for American presidents to pardon a turkey, Lincoln’s youngest son Tad, 10, begged his father not to kill Jack the turkey, who had been given to the White House to be part of a Thanksgiving meal. Lincoln signed an order of reprieve and Jack was free to follow Tad around the White House grounds.