U.S. Presidents and their Pets

FDR and Fala

GEORGE WASHINGTON, our first President, served from 1789-1797. While the White House was not constructed at that time, Washington’s pets can still be considered as “First Pets,” and he had many. Popular and unusual were a Lemur named Jackson and a Messenger Pigeon named Edmond.

JOHN ADAMS, 1797-1801, was the first President to live in the White House. He had many horses and hound dogs. Favorites among them were his dogs, Juno and Satan and a horse named Cleopatra. John Adams was also the great, great grandson of John and Priscilla Alden who were among those landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, served from 1801-1809. Jefferson paid $15,000,000 for the Louisiana Purchase which today includes parts or all of 14 U.S. States and 2 Canadian Provinces. Quite a bargain! His pets included grizzly bear cubs, a gift from the Lewis and Clark expedition, a Mockingbird and several dogs. Jefferson would often walk with his bears through the White House gardens. Jefferson also instituted the first dog licenses.

JAMES MADISON served from 1809-1817. Madison was small in stature, only 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed 100 lbs. His distinguished relatives included George Washington and Zachary Taylor. He was first to wear long trousers instead of the usual knee breeches. His favorite pets were a macaw and sheep.

JAMES MONROE, served 1817-1825 Monroe introduced the Monroe Doctrine, a policy existing even today that prevents any European country from colonizing land in the Americas. He had a spaniel named Buddy, a gift from the Frenchman, Lafayette.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, son of John Adams, served 1825-1829. He was the first President to be photographed and the first to serve in the House of Representatives after being President. John Q. had a very unusual pet, an alligator, which he kept in a bathtub in the White House for several months.

ANDREW JACKSON was president from 1829 to 1837. He was known as “Old Hickory” a reference to the wood for his toughness. Jackson viewed himself as a representative of the common man and was popular with voters. He had a number of horses and a pet parrot named Pol who had a very colorful vocabulary.

MARTIN VAN BUREN served 1837-1841. Van Buren served as Vice President to Andrew Jackson and was one of the organizers of the Democratic Party. Van Buren was the first president born as an American citizen. He had two tiger cubs, a gift from the Sultan of Oman. Encouraged to give them to a zoo, he did. He also had some horses.

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON’s time of service was cut short when he died of pneumonia in April of 1841. His pets were a goat and a cow.

JOHN TYLER, Vice President, took over the presidency following Harrison’s death and served from 1841-1845. Florida was admitted to the Union and Texas annexed in 1845. Tyler had 15 children. His pets included horses and a Greyhound named LeBeau.

JAMES K. POLK served from 1845 to 1849. Polk was a strong President, a proponent of Manifest Destiny and expanded the area of the U.S., securing what was known then as the Oregon Territory. He also opened the Naval Academy and Smithsonian Institute and issued the first U.S. postage stamp. His pets were horses.

ZACHARY TAYLOR was president from 1849-1850. Nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready,” Taylor was a popular career soldier and hero of the Mexican-American War. He became ill and died in July of 1850. Taylor’s pets included Old Whitey, one of his horses, a Canary and 2 Irish Wolfhounds.

MILLARD FILLMORE served 1850-1853. Fillmore’s wife, Abigail, set up the first White House library. Surprisingly, since Fillmore was one of the strong supporters of the ASPCA, he had no known pets.

FRANKLIN PIERCE’s term was 1853-1857. Pierce was the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White House. He drank excessively and died of “stomach inflammation” in 1869. Like Fillmore, there is no record of any pets.

JAMES BUCHANAN served from 1857 to 1861. Buchanan wanted to buy Cuba for $90,000,000 but Congress didn’t trust him and thought he would abscond with the money. He was the only bachelor president. The King of Siam gifted Buchanan with elephants. He also had a pair of bald eagles and a Newfoundland called Lara.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN served his country during one of its most difficult times – The Civil War – 1861-1865. Lincoln preserved the Union and abolished slavery. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in D.C. While in the White House, the Lincolns had many pets. Among them was a dog named Fido, many other dogs, cats, Rabbits, goats, and turkeys.

ANDREW JOHNSON became president in 1865 and served until 1869. He was the first president to be impeached by the House of Representatives for violating the Tenure of Office Act (the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1926), but was acquitted by one vote in the Senate. Johnson befriended the resident White House Mice and even fed them.

ULYSSES S. GRANT was president from 1869-1877. Abe Lincoln said of Grant, “I cannot spare this man, he fights.” Grant hated the sight of blood and even had his meat cooked very well done. He had the first Siamese kitten in the U.S. He also had a Newfoundland, Faithful, many horses, a parrot and gamecocks.

RUTHERFORD B. HAYES served from 1877 to 1881. He had fewer popular votes than Samuel Tlden, his opponent but won the presidency with electoral appointment. The Hayes family set the tradition of the White House Easter egg roll. Hayes had many pets – Jersey cows, shepherd dogs, a goat, canaries, 2 hunting dogs, a Mockingbird, 4 kittens, carriage horses, a Mastiff named Duke, Hector a Newfoundland, Dot a Terrier and a Greyhound named Grim.

JAMES ABRAM GARFIELD was elected in 1881. He was shot by an assassin in July of 1885 and died in September of the same year. Garfield was the only sitting member of the House of Representatives to be elected president. He named his mixed breed dog, Veto.

CHESTER ALLAN ARTHUR , as Garfield’s Vice President, took the oath of office of the presidency from 1881-1885. He reformed Civil Service and enacted the first Immigration law. There is no record of his having any pets.

GROVER CLEVELAND served from 1885-1889. Cleveland was a distant cousin of Ullyses S. Grant. He was the only President married in the White House. Cleveland was known to answer the White House phone personally. His pets included canaries, Mockingbirds and a Poodle.

BENJAMIN HARRISON was president from 1889-1893. His grandfather was President William Henry Harrison. Benjamin Harrison signed the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 to prevent unfair trade practices. He had a number of dogs, one by the name of Dash, an opossum and Whiskers the goat.

GROVER CLEVELAND was elected president a second time and served from 1893-1897.

WILLIAM MCKINLEY served from 1897-1901. The basis for U.S. currency, the Gold Standard Act was signed by McKinley in 1900. McKinley was the first president to use the telephone for campaigning. He was also the first president to ride in a car, an ambulance after he was shot. His pets included a parrot and a cat with 4 kittens. McKinley was assassinated in September of 1901 while serving his second term as president.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT assumed McKinley’s second term as president and was voted another term from 1905 to 1909. A hero of the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt often quoted the proverb “speak softly and carry a big stick.” He was the first American to win the Nobel Prize (for Peace). He was a strong conservationist and established the first National Wildlife Refuge. Because Roosevelt would not shoot a bear cub on a hunting expedition Teddy Bears were named after him. Among his many pets were a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Sailor Boy, a Pekingese, Manchu, Skip a mixed breed dog, Jack and Pete, Terriers, Tom Quartz and Slippers, cats, a badger named Josiah, Algonquin the pony, Eli a Macaw, Jonathon the Rat, Emily Spinach, a Garter Snake, 12 horses, 5 bears, 5 Guinea pigs, roosters, Lizards, an owl, a raccoon, a coyote, and exotic animals, a lion, hyena and zebra.

WILLIAN HOWARD TAFT served 1909-1913. He had the distinction of being physically the heaviest president. Taft was very fond of milk and kept a cow named Pauline in the White House kitchen. Pauline slept in the garage with the Taft cats.

WOODROW WILSON was president from 1913 to 1921. Although a man of peace, Wilson entered the U.S. in World War I when Germany sank the British ship, the Lusitania with 120 Americans on board. After the war he was a strong advocate for the League of Nations and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 1919. Wilson’s pets were a ram named Old Ike, sheep, chickens and cats.

WARREN G. HARDING served from 1921-1923. His term was riddled with scandal, the most well-known being that of the Teapot Dome in which oil reserves were sold privately by the Secretary of the Interior in exchange for money. Harding died in office in 1923 before any charges could be brought against him. His pets included an Airedale Terrier called Laddie Boy, a Bulldog named Old Boy and [[Canary|canaries].

CALVIN COOLIDGE assumed the presidency in 1923 after Harding’s death and was elected to serve a term from 1924 to March of 1929. He was the only president to be born on July 4th. Coolidge had many pets – a Terrier, Peter Pan, an Airedale Terrier, Paul Pry, a sheepdog, Calamity Jane, a Bulldog, Boston Beans, a shepherd, King Cole, a bird dog, Palo Alto, Collies, Rob Roy, Prudence Prim, Ruby Rough and Bessie, Chows, Blackberry and Tiny Tim, canaries – Nip, Tuck and Snowflake, cats – Bounder, Tiger and Blacky, a Donkey, Ebenezer, raccoons, a bobcat, a thrush, a goose, a mockingbird, a bear, an antelope, a wallaby, lion cubs and a pygmy hippo. Many of the pygmy hippos in zoos today are descended from Coolidge’s pet.

HERBERT HOOVER served from 1929 to 1933. His presidency was marred by the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. Hoover was one of the most unpopular presidents. His pets included Glen, a Collie, Yukon, a Malamute, Patrick, a wolfhound, Eaglehurst Gillette, a setter, Weejie an elkhhound, Fox Terriers, Big Ben and Sonnie, shepherds, King Tut and Pat and an opossum.

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT served from 1933 to April of 1945. FDR moved the nation out of the Great Depression with his “New Deal” programs and led the U.S. to victory in World War II. His popularity led him to be elected for 4 terms although he died shortly after elected to his 4th term. (Since that time the law has been changed and presidents can serve only 2 consecutive elected terms.) FDR had a number of dogs – Major, a German Shepherd, Winks, a Llewellyn Setter, Tiny, an English Sheepdog, President, a Great Dane and Blaze, a Mastiff. However Fala, his Scottish Terrier was his favorite. Fala was a gift from Mrs. Augustus G. Kellogg after obedience training by FDR’s cousin, Margaret Suckley. Roosevelt re-named the terrier pup (known as Big Boy) Murray the Outlaw of Falahill after his Scottish ancestor, John Murray of Fallahill. The pup became known affectionately as Fala. Fala was FDR’s constant companion going everywhere with him. He once made a speech (“The Fala Speech”) in which he told detractors they could say anything about him, but leave Fala alone. Fala is buried next to FDR in Hyde Park, N.Y. There is a statue of both man and dog next to each other in Washington, D.C.

HARRY SHIPPE TRUMAN assumed the presidency after Roosevelt’s death in 1945 and was elected to another term 1949-1953. One of his many famous quotes was “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” He kept a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that said “the buck stops here.” Truman had a down-home kind of philosophy and was quoted as saying “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Truman made many crucial foreign policy decisions such as using the atomic bomb on Japan to save American lives. Truman’s pets included a Cocker Spaniel named Feller and an Irish Setter named Mike.

DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER was elected in 1953 and served until 1961. Eisenhower was a distinguished General in World War II and a popular president. He was the only American awarded the British Order of Merit. Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union during his Presidency. As an avid golfer, he practiced on the White House lawn. His pet dog was a {Weimaraner]] named Heidi.

JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY was the first Catholic elected to the presidency and served from 1961-1963. JFK instituted many social and economic reforms including desegragation, civil rights reform and the Peace Corp. He was assassinated in Dallas, Texas while riding in an open car, November 22, 1963. He had horses named Rufus and Sardar, ponies Macaroni on which Caroline learned to ride, Leprechaun, a gift to John Jr. from the people of Ireland and Tex, Tom Kitten the cat, Robin the {Canary]], Zsa Zsa the Rabbit, Bluebell and Marybelle, Parakeets, Debbie and Billie, Hamsters, Charles, a Welsh Terrier, dogs – Pushkin, Shannon, Wolf and Clipper. Pushkin and Charles presented the First Family with 4 puppies.

LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, Vice President in Kennedy’s administration, assumed the office in 1963 after Kennedy’s assassination and was elected for a term ending in 1969. His oath of office took place on Air Force One with Judge Sarah Hughes of Dallas administering the oath and JFK’s body in another part of the plane. To relax, Johnson would drive his Lincoln Continental and speed over 90 mph on Texas highways. His best known pets were 2 Beagles, Him and Her. Also Him’s pup, Freckles, Blanco, a Collie, Edgar, a Yorkshire Terrier mix, Hamsters and Lovebirds.

RICHARD NIXON served as president from 1969-1974. Nixon ended the Vietnam War and opened relations with the People’s Republic of China. He resigned in his 2nd term of office avoiding impeachment over the Watergate scandal. He was pardoned by Gerald Ford who succeeded him. Nixon had a Poodle named Vicky, Pasha, a terrier, King Timahoe, an Irish Setter, fish and a Cocker Spaniel named Checkers. Although Checkers never lived in the White House, his fame came in a speech by Nixon. When plagued by questions about campaign contributions during his run for Vice President in 1962, Nixon said no matter what,they would keep Checkers who was a gift.

GERALD FORD, as Nixon’s Vice President, took the office of President after Nixon resigned, for the remainder of Nixon’s term, 1974-1977. He is credited with restoring faith in the office of President. He was the oldest living president when he died at age 93 in 2006. Ford’s pets were a Golden Retriever, Liberty and a Siamese cat, Chan.

JAMES EARL CARTER, JR. (he insisted on being called Jimmy) was elected to the office from 1977 to 1981. Among his accomplishments were the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt and the Panama Canal treaties. The last 14 months of his presidency were spent trying to free the American hostages held by the Iranians, but he failed. They were released when Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President. Carter had a pet dog named Grits.

RONALD REAGAN was elected to serve for 2 terms, 1981-1989. Reagan, a former actor, turned to politics and was elected Governor of California in 1967. As President, he pursued a successful economic policy known as “Reaganomics.” He survived an assassination attempt and went on to be the oldest President serving. Reagan loved to eat jelly beans and made them very popular. Reagan had a Bouvier des Flandres named Lucky who loved to chase news people. When he became too big to handle in the White House, Lucky went to live on the Reagan ranch. His King Charles Cavalier Spaniel was named Rex.

GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH Reagan’s Vice President, was elected for the term of 1989 to 1993. President Bush pledged “a kinder and gentler nation” with traditional values. While Reagan made the famous speech in Berlin saying “Mr. Gorbachav tear down this wall,” the Berlin Wall fell during Bush’s administration. He launched “Desert Storm” to free Kuwait and routed the Iraqi army. His dog was a Springer Spaniel named Millie and one of Millie’s offspring, Ranger.

WILlIAM J. CLINTON served 2 terms from 1993-2001. His presidency was marked by a balanced budget and surplus and a healthy economy. Due to personal indiscretions Clinton was the 2nd president to be impeached by the House of Representatives although later found not guilty in the Senate. The Clinton pets included Socks who was a stray cat when the Clintons adopted him. Socks was close to 20 years old when he died. Buddy was their chocolate Labrador Retriever. Socks and Buddy did not get along and had to be kept in separate quarters.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, son of George H.W. Bush was elected for 2 terms from 2001 to 2009. On September 11, 2001, terrorists launched what came to be known as 9/11, the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York and causing immense damage to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth plane, heading to cause more destruction was downed over Pennsylvania by the brave passengers. Almost 3,000 American lives were lost that day. Bush declared war on global terrorism and launched war in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was much criticized for his policies when America faced its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. After Hurricane Katrina left so many animals homeless or dead, President Bush signed a bill, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) to ensure no pets or service animals are left behind in a disaster. The Bush’s own pets included Spot, a Springer Spaniel (Millie’s offspring), a Scottish Terrier, Barney, India the cat and Miss Beazley, a Scottish Terrier, birthday gift to wife, Laura.

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA was elected President in 2009. Having no pets on entering the White House, the Obamas chose a Portuguese Water Dog which they named Bo.

Video: Presidential Pets


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