Did you know that there is a whole industry in book publishing related to presidential pets? Although these books are not available in the Rutgers Libraries collection, we were thrilled to read that dogs are returning to the White House! In addition to the Wikipedia entry on the United States presidential pets, there are several articles on presidents and their dogs or cats all over the world and going back to centuries.
HINT: If you want to skip the text below, you can simply check out the “Presidential Dogs” exhibit from the AKC Museum of the Dog. A virtual tour available with any suggested donation, starting at $1.00 from September 2020 through January 2021.
To begin with, George Washington bred hunting dogs for speed. His love of dogs might have developed from his love of fox hunting and gave telling names to them such as Sweet Lips, Scentwell, Truelove, Taster, Tippler, Drunkard and Madame Moose.
The ten most popular presidential dogs, including the ones that lived some hundreds of years ago, include a memorable Scottish Terrier called Fala, one of the eight dogs that Franklin D. Roosevelt had while in the White House. The FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C. features Fala with the president.
During the Cold War, a heartwarming gift arrived in the White House from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to US President John F Kennedy. It was a dog called Pushinka, whose mother, Strelka, was one of the first dogs to fly into space (and return alive). Probably thoroughly checked for bugs, the dog received a hearty welcome from the family, including the pet contingent. Pushinka had puppies with the Kennedy’s Welsh terrier to strengthen the frayed ties between the two leading nations: a dynastic marriage of sorts.
Anyone remember when the Obama girls received their dog, promised them by their parents if their father won the White House? Barack Obama’s Portuguese Water Dog, Bo, was so popular that he became the hero of children’s books and the model for a plush toy still available in the White House online gift shop. A blizzard is more tolerable if you have a dog to entertain you!
Moving overseas, the first dog of France, Nemo, is a Labrador Retriever-Wirehaired Pointing Griffon mix. President Macron’s pet was named after Captain Nemo, the submarine commander in the Jules Verne classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, reportedly one of Macron’s favorite books.
The people of Ireland love their president for his love of dogs, although the position of President in Ireland is largely ceremonial. Michael Daniel Higgins, Irish politician, poet, sociologist, and broadcaster, has served as the ninth President of Ireland and is often pictured with one of his two dogs, Síoda and Bród, who have their own Twitter account. The news of Síoda’s passing was met with widespread dismay in September 2020.
For the cat lovers among us: rumor has it that, in addition to DOTUS, we may have COTUS.
Do we have your attention? Check out some of these links, too. But don’t get too sucked in, this is supposed to be only a short break!
- It wasn’t just President Washington’s dogs that had fun names..
- Look at these pictures of all presidential dogs from Business Insider!
- There is even a matching game to celebrate Dogs in politics day
- Here’s a fun page listing dogs who look like presidents
- Check out some world leaders and their pets
- We got a kick out of president-inspired pet names
- There is a Presidential Pet Museum, which features the history of pets, images, trivia, and videoclips on the Presidential Pet TV
- Watch a short video on presidential pets and gifts that presidents received, including some weird ones such as a tiger, an ostrich, and a camel (1:45 minutes, from GZERO)
- The complete list of US presidential dog names
Added on 1/12/2021
- A pet-loving family is on its way to the White House – With two dogs (one adopted) and a cat to come, the Bidens bring joy to humane societies. (Article in the Washington Post)