Barack Obama, the 45th President of the United States, took great care in selecting a dog when he moved into the White House. The chief choosers, though, were his two daughters, Sasha and Malia. After the most scrutinized dog-search in American history, the First Family chose Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog. Bo, though, is only the latest in a long succession of presidential pups, which began with the Father of Our County, George Washington.
The original George Dubya’s pets were actual working dogs. He had three American Stag Hounds (Scentwell, Vulcan and Sweet Lips) and four Black and Tan Coon Hounds (Drunkard, Taster, Tipler and Tipsy). John Adams had three dogs, named Mark, Juno and Satan. Thomas Jefferson had two dogs, and kept two bear cubs besides. Not all the early presidents were dog lovers, though. James Madison owned a parrot, as did Andrew Jackson (who taught his to swear). John Quincy Adams owned a pair of alligators. Martin Van Buren briefly had a pair of tiger cubs.
Smile for the Cameras
In the modern era, dogs of the POTUS have become fodder for the media. Herbert Hoover used a photograph featuring his newly-acquired German Shepherd as a public-relations prop. Lyndon Johnson’s image suffered when he was shown picking up his beagles, named Him and Her, by the ears. Richard Nixon once included his Cocker Spaniel, Checkers, in a national speech. George W. Bush made one of the first YouTube ripples when he dropped his dog, Barney, on camera.
By far, though, the biggest animal lover in the Oval Office was Calvin Coolidge with a dozen. Theodore Roosevelt was a close second with ten dogs, a pig named Maude, a badger, a garter snake and a one-legged rooster. During his nephew FDR’s four terms in office, he and his wife Eleanor owned seven dogs, including a Great Dane named President and a Bull Mastiff named Blaze. And John F. Kennedy, ever the diplomat, received a mutt named Pushinka as a gift from the Premiere of Russia. It was the offspring of the Soviet space dog, Strelka.