Popular Presidential Pets

The most famous four-legged White House residents!

Posted in , Feb 14, 2012

Bo, the nation's First Dog during the Obama adminstration

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 animal. As we celebrate Presidents Day, here is a menagerie of famous First Pets:

Bo and Sunny, Portuguese Water Dog (First Dogs from 2009-2017)
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.

President Clinton and BuddyBarney and Miss Beazley, Scottish Terriers, and India, an American Shorthair (First Dogs 2001-2009 and 2005-2009 and a First Cat)
George W. Bush considered Barney a part of the family. Barney loved to play with his soccer ball. Later, the President gave puppy Miss Beazley to his wife, Laura, on her birthday. Barney and Miss Beazley starred in many films, called BarneyCam. The Bush daughters, Barbara and Jenna, also had a black cat, India, who stayed at the White House when the twins went off to college.

Socks the cat (First Cat from 1993-2001) and Buddy the Labrador Retriever (First Dog from 1997-2002)
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, who arrived at the White House as a frisky chocolate-colored puppy. In 1998 Hillary Clinton wrote a book about the pets, called Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets.

Millie the Springer Spaniel  (First Dog from 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!

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. Watch this video of Caroline riding Macaroni.

FDR and Fala, out for a driveFala the Scottish Terrier (First Dog from 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.

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 the George Washington and the parrot didn’t get along!

Bonus Facts!
Dogs are the most popular presidential pet. John F. Kennedy and Calvin Coolidge owned the most pets. And the most unusual pets (alligator and silkworms) belonged to John Quincy Adams.

Peggy Frezon, freelance writer and pet lover, has owned dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, hermit crabs, turtles and fish. Visit here twice monthly to read helpful tips on caring for your pets, and check out her blog, Peggy’s Pet Place, and follow her on Twitter @peggyfrezon.

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