The White House is the most famous house in America, and some of the most important figures in American history have called it “home” at one time. While you can probably recognize the names of most of the Presidents who have lived in the White House, what about Jack, Grits, and Ebenezer? Get ready to meet some of the White House’s most beloved characters. They made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue without ever receiving a vote!
Barack Obama made a lot of promises to the country during his campaign, but in one of his first speeches after his election, President Obama talked about a promise he’d made a bit closer to home: a promise to buy his daughters a puppy.
A few months after the Obamas moved into their new home on Pennsylvania Avenue, they announced that a new member would soon join the Obama family. On April 14, 2009, a fuzzy black and white Portuguese water dog named Bo moved into the White House.
Bo may be the current four-legged resident roaming its halls, but the White House has seen all kinds of pets over the years. The tradition of “First Pets” dates all the way back to the first President, George Washington, who had hound dogs, a donkey named “Royal Gift,” and a horse called “Nelson.”
There has been no shortage of dogs in Washington over the years. Many breeds have joined their masters for a stay in the White House, including Labradors, Beagles, Scottish Terriers, Irish Wolfhounds, Bull Terriers, St. Bernards, Greyhounds, English Mastiffs and more than a few mixed mutts.
Not only have these First Dogs had unusual lives; some of them have had some very unusual names, too. Lyndon B. Johnson named his Beagles “Him” and “Her.” Though little, George W. Bush’s Scottish Terrier came with the very dignified name of “Miss Beazley.” Franklin D. Roosevelt had a Great Dane named “President,” while James Garfield’s dog answered to the name “Veto.”
While a dog may be the pet of choice for many Presidents, the White House has also housed a wild assortment of animals at times. There have been ponies, pigs, cows, lizards, kangaroos, flying squirrels, raccoons, and even a snake named “Emily Spinach.” During his stay at the White House, Calvin Coolidge had a variety of pets, including a bobcat, mockingbird, antelope, wallaby, lion cubs, and even a pygmy hippo.
Although they may have had one of the most challenging and important jobs around, almost all the presidents in American history have found comfort and joy in sharing their time in the White House with family pets. During a press conference, President Obama was asked if he would allow Bo in the Oval Office. The President’s response? “Of course.”