Happy (almost) Fourth of July to all our patriotic pups!! As the day of life, liberty and the pawsuit of happiness draws near, we wanted to take a stroll down memory (cobbled) lanes and look at some of the OG boss dogs, the president’s pets – the First Dogs of America, of course!
The truest Founding Father presents us with a happy dilemma – he had so many dogs and loved them all so much, we can’t highlight just one! In fact, historians estimate that this honorable president who could not tell a lie owned at least one of every type of breed recognized today by the AKC!
There were Tipsy, Mopsey, Truelove, and Ragman, his French Hounds; Madame Moose, his Dalmatian, Sweetlips, his hound – and so many, many more!
In fact, Vulcan, a memorable French Hound of his, gave the President quite a laugh when he snuck into the kitchens one afternoon and stole off with Martha Washington’s prize ham reserved for an important dinner that night! Always the softie, good ol’ George laughed it off.
Those are real presidential goals!
The second President, and his wife, Abigail, had three pups during their time in the White House and a beloved horse named Cleopatra (Adams built the White House stables.) Juno, Mark and Satan (yup, you read that right) have the distinction of being the first to run on the official White House lawn.
In fact, Abigail Adams was so in love with her pups, she wrote letters about them: “If you love me, you must love my dog,” she writes. (Icon!)
John Quincy Adams
Talk about a guard pet!
The sixth President started quite the trend of unusual besties in his own right – he had a First Alligator as a pet! A gift from France (the Marquis de Lafayette, to be precise) this guy lived in the bathroom of the East Wing. Talk about giving the servants a scare!
And if you’re thinking this gator thing was a one-time only White House guess – nope! Hoover had an alligator with him during the Depression in the 1930s during his executive tenure and his own son brought in two more!
This President had a soft spot for mockingbirds and the Briard breed – a French flock dog. In fact he paid around $6 for a big Briard and her pup and took them across the pond back to America to live with him in the White House (and among his many birds.) And how could he not have fallen in love with this breed? It’s so lovable it’s literally been called a “heart wrapped in fur.”
Puppy or bear – but all bestie!
The only President to have never married, Buchanan opted for BESTIEship instead (same, tbh) having a lifelong friend in Lara, his Newfoundland. At a whopping 170 pounds (reports liken her to a bear,) she was no tiny pupper, but he brought her with him from his estate in Pennsylvania to reign over pups and cats as First Lady/Dog in DC.
Their two-way friendship was well-documented, with papers at the time acknowledging one always was on the lookout for the other. And when he travelled abroad, he always inquired after Lara in his letters, as he missed her so.
The duo on a hunting trip
Good old Teddy – he didn’t just have a First Dog, he had a First Menagerie! A huge gaggle of dogs, tons of cats, a lizard, a pony, even a small bear… (Oh my!)
His favorite, though, was his small mutt named Skip (Skip was possibly a rat terrier.) Roosevelt found Skip on a hunt and was impressed about how, despite his diminutive size, he would stand his ground against anything. He became a beloved playmate of the children and the true bestie of the President. After dinner, Skip would curl up on Teddy’s lap as he read and go to sleep.
The Presidential Archives
Perhaps having the most dubious distinction, Heidi, Eisenhower’s Weimaraner was the only doggy actually banned from the White House 😶 due to have an, erm, accident on a very expensive rug in the diplomatic reception room (today that rug would have been valued at near $175,000!) Unfortunately, this wasn’t Heidi’s first peepee transgression, so she was given a life more well-suited to her spirit and went to live with family on the Eisenhower estate in Gettysburg.
Liberty, Ford’s Golden Retriever pal, was a constant friend to the President and his family. Gifted to Ford at just 8 months-old by his daughter, Liberty became the face of America (at least in our opinion!) as she was frequently photographed at White House events, in the Oval Office, etc. In fact, she was so popular, a rubber stamp of her paw print was even made as an official White House autograph.
Like any good bestie, she was always there to help her friend out of a jam – in fact, if Ford wanted to end a conversation, it is said that he would signal to Liberty to the guest wagging her tail creating a natural break!