Of all the decisions the new President-elect has before him, none has captured the American people’s imaginations more quickly than the first family’s decision to get a puppy.
Following through on an early campaign promise to his girls (win or lose they get a puppy after the election), Obama has been bombarded by animal groups across the nation who are doing their best to influence this presidential pick with their own recommendations regarding where to find and what to look for in a first pet.
- George Washington had 36 dogs, 12 horses, and a parrot that belonged to Martha.
- Calvin Coolidge had a pack of dogs, a donkey named Ebenezer, a goose named Enoch, canaries, a thrush and a mockingbird, two house cats, and two “pet” raccoons.
- Theodore Roosevelt has 12 horses, five dogs, five guinea pigs, two cats, garter snakes, a horned toad, a pony, two kangaroo rats, a flock of ducks, a flying squirrel, a badger, a pig and a blue macaw named Eli Yale. He also was an avid bird-watcher.
- John F. Kennedy had more pets than any other president. While in the White House, he had an animal area near his office with lambs, ponies, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, parakeets, a canary, a cat, a rabbit and a horse.
- Bill Clinton had a cat named Socks and a chocolate Labrador named Buddy.
- And our current president, George W. Bush, has had three dogs and two cats, including Barney, a Scottish terrier and a cat named India.
Pets have even influenced White House policy. A turkey intended for Thanksgiving dinner was spared by President Lincoln when his son Tad pleaded for the bird’s life. To this day, our President symbolically grants one turkey a reprieve and then has it released into the national reserve.
For more on White House pets, check out the Presidential Pet Museum.