This Presidents Day we’re not only celebrating the leaders of our country, but their furry companions who won over the hearts of millions of Americans! Dating back all the way to our very first president, the leaders of the free nation have kept adorable dogs with many interesting personalities and backstories, some of which we explore below.
Washington carefully bred his American Foxhounds, listing more than 30 in his journals! Some with memorable names were Drunkard, Tipler, and Tipsy. (We’re sensing a theme, here!).
The First Gentlemen of Virginia, 1909 by John Ward Dunsmore
Honest Abe went traditional with the name of his pup, Fido, who lived with the former president at his home in Springfield, IL before taking office. He didn’t bring the dog to Washington when he stepped into the presidential shoes, for fear the dog wouldn’t make the trip. His son Tad took care of the pup instead, and it’s said that when Lincoln’s body was returned to his hometown Fido was brought out to meet the mourners.
President Lincoln and Fido.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fala, FDR’s Scottish Terrier, is one of the most iconic first dogs. The playful pup starred in a movie, was named an honorary Army private, and even had his own press secretary!
Fala and FDR discussing the news of the day.
John F. Kennedy
The Kennedy family built a special play area near the West Wing for their children and the family pets. JFK was the first President to request that his dogs come out to meet the presidential helicopter when he arrived at the White House. Some of his pups’ names include Shannon, Clipper, Charlie and Wolf
JFK with his German Shepherd, Clipper. 1963
George H. W. Bush & Millie
Millie, a Springer Spaniel, is another prolific Oval Office pet. Her book, Millie’s Book, was ghost-written by First Lady Barbara Bush – it was so popular that it outsold her master’s biography!
Millie's Book, a day in the life living on Pennsylvania Ave.
Barack Obama and Bo
Bo was the Obama family’s Portuguese water dog, and is so named by Barack’s daughters Malia and Sasha because they have cousins with a cat of the same name and because Michelle’s father was nicknamed Diddely, after the famous bluesman Bo Diddley.
Official White House portrait of the First Dog. May 2009
Do YOU know any good presidential pet stories that we’ve missed here?