A Presidents' Day Gallery of First Pets

A Presidents' Day Gallery of First Pets

Pet expert Peggy Frezon celebrates some of the most famous pets to live in the White House.

I love seeing pictures and reading news about the Obamas’ Portuguese Water Dogs, Bo and Sunny. Knowing there are pets in the White House helps me relate to the First Family in a special way. Bo and Sunny may be popular, but they’re not the first presidential live-in animals. As we celebrate Presidents' Day, here is a menagerie of famous First Pets.

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  • Guideposts: Bill Clinton pets Buddy, his chocolate lab

    Buddy the Labrador Retriever (First Dog, 1997-2001)

    President Clinton holds his chocolate lab Buddy

  • Guideposts: Bill Clinton holds his cat, Socks

    Socks the Cat (First Cat, 1993-2001)

    Socks is a black and white “tuxedo” American Shorthair cat belonging to Bill Clinton. He often visited schools and hospitals. Later, Socks was “voted out of office” because he didn’t get along with the White House dog, Buddy.

  • Guideposts: George H.W. Bush holds Millie his springer spaniel

    Millie the Springer Spaniel (First Dog, 1989-1993)

    George H.W. Bush’s adorable brown and white spaniel is credited as the only White House dog to write a book: Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush. In 1989, Millie had six puppies, two of which also became White House dogs!

  • Guideposts: John F. Kennedy's horse, Macaroni

    Macaroni the Pony (First Pet, 1963)

    John F. Kennedy’s family owned many pets, including a horse, which was a present to 5-year-old Caroline Kennedy. Caroline often rode the horse around the White House lawn. 

  • Guideposts: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Fala, the black Scottish Terrier

    Fala the Scottish Terrier (First Dog, 1940-1945)

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt was rarely seen without his expressive black Scottie dog with the scruffy whiskers and bushy eyebrows. Fala followed the President everywhere and even traveled with him to important events.

  • Guideposts: Barack and Michelle Obama with Bo and Sunny in the Oval Office

    Bo and Sunny, Portuguese Water Dog (First Dogs, 2009-present)

    When President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia needed a pet that wouldn’t aggravate her allergies, enter Bo! A fleecy coat makes the Portuguese Water Dog a hypoallergenic breed. In 2013, First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted that they had added a new member of the family: 1-year-old Sunny, described as energetic and affectionate.

  • Guideposts: Michelle Obama hugs Bo and Sunny in the White House

    Hugs from Bo and Sunny

    These special friends really know how to light up a room

  • Guideposts: Red parrot

    Polly the parrot (First Pet, 1789-1791)

    In addition to horses and hound dogs, George Washington owned a parrot. Actually, Polly belonged to Martha Washington, and it’s said that George and the parrot didn’t get along!

  • Guideposts: Alligator

    An Alligator for John Quincy Adams (First Pet, 1825-1829)

    The most unusual presidential pets (an alligator and silkworms) belonged to John Quincy Adams. The Alligator lived in a White House bathroom and left many guests terrified!


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