White House Pets

Image of the white house.

A surprising issue that has arisen in the American political arena is not foreign policy, but rather which breed of dog the Obama's chose to join their family in the White House. Barack Obama has announced that his family narrowed their breed choices to a Labradoodle, a mix between a Labrador retriever and a Poodle, and a Portuguese water dog. Both breeds are large, with curly hair and a mild amount of shedding.

Obama stated in interviews that a limiting factor was his daughter Malia's allergies. They decided on a six month old Portuguese water dog they named Bo. The dog is a gift from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who owns several Portuguese water dogs.

There has been a long history of pets in the White House. Most Presidential pooches have been pure-breed dogs, including "Buddy" Clinton, a chocolate Labrador retriever and "Barney" and "Miss Beazley" Bush, both Scottish terriers. Bush Sr. had a Springer Spaniel named "Millie" that gave birth to puppies while at the White House. Ford's Golden Retriever "Liberty" also had a litter of puppies. Reagan owned a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named "Rex" and a Bouvier des Flandres named "Lucky". James Garfield named his dog "Veto".

There have been some mix-breed dogs in the White House though: Abraham Lincoln's dog "Fido" and Lyndon B. Johnson's dog "Yuki" were both strays that found a home in the most prominent house in the world. Cats have also lived at the White House, most notably "Socks" Clinton. Eleven presidents have brought their cats to the White House, including Lincoln, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Clinton, and George W. Bush. Although the standard White House pets are dogs and cats, a few presidents have enjoyed the company of more rare animals. John Quincy Adams owned an alligator and silkworms. Martin Van Buren briefly owned two tiger cubs. Calvin Coolidge had pet raccoons and a pygmy hippopotamus named Billy, among many other exotic pets. James Buchanan had a Newfoundland named "Lara" and owned a herd of elephants, which were a gift from the King of Siam, and two bald eagles. John F. Kennedy had a collection of animals joining him at the White House, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, ponies, and horses.

Teddy Roosevelt had the most elaborate menagerie at the White House, including a bear named Jonathan Edwards, a badger named Josiah, and a blue macaw named Eli. He also had a lion, a hyena, a wildcat, a coyote, bears, a zebra, and various dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, and guinea pigs. Animals at the White House certainly provides opportunities for some embarrassing occurrences. Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Terrier named "Pete" chewed a hole in the French ambassador's pants at a White House reception. "Yuki", Lyndon B. Johnson's mix-breed dog would howl during Oval Office meetings. Jimmy Carter's dog "Grits" ruined a White House photo op for Heartworm Awareness Week by becoming aggressive, ripping off her muzzle, and growling while a technician tried to draw blood for a heartworm test. Obama and his family have a big choice to make. Animals living with their family at the White House are an American tradition, and whichever dog the Obama's choose, one thing is for sure, it will be one lucky dog.

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  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
    ~R.H
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    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
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    ~T.C.
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    ~T.F.
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
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  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
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  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
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  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
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  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
    ~Budkus
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.