• Cierra Voelkl

Presidential Pets in the White House

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

September 23 celebrates dogs in politics aka presidential pups. Throughout the years, presidents have owned numerous dogs (and other pets) that have resided in the White House. Dogs in Politics Day came about after a speech given by Richard Nixon in 1952 which was dubbed the “Checkers Speech”. The speech was an effort to refute charges about abusing campaign funds by touching the public’s heart with his children and dog, Checkers.

The First Dog of the United States has long held an important role in the White House of being the goodest boy (and girl). Almost every president that’s held the office of POTUS has had dogs and other pets! Some pets included exotic animals that were often gifted by foreign dignitaries and later donated to zoos. Here are some interesting facts about those animals.

1. George Washington, the first President of the United States, had several dogs and other pets! Dogs included American Foxhounds, Black and Tan Coonhounds, and a Greyhound.

2. John Quincy Adams was gifted an alligator by French revolutionary hero the Marquis de Lafayette. The alligator was given the unfinished East Room which included its own bathtub.

Photo Credit: California Historical Society Collection

3. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife had a raccoon named Rebecca (along with numerous other animals like a donkey, bobcat, geese, and more). The raccoon was sent to the family for their first Thanksgiving feast in the White House but she was too cute to resist and became apart of the family. They eventually got Reuben the Racoon to keep Rebecca company but he escaped and was never found.

Calvin Coolidge's wife, Grace Coolidge, holding their pet raccoon, Rebecca

4. Abraham Lincoln let his children have as many pets as they wanted. This resulted in them having rabbits, horses, turkeys, and two goats named Nanny and Nanko. One turkey ended up becoming apart of the family after President Lincoln decided the fowl wouldn’t be on the dinner menu and named him Jack. And he of course had dogs and cats as well.

5. 26th President Theodore Roosevelt and his six children had the most pets the White House had seen. Some of these pets included a small bear named Jonathan Edwards, guinea pigs named Admiral Dewey, a badger named Josiah, a lizard named Bill and so so many more!

6. Andrew Jackson had a grey parrot named Polly that learned to swear. Because of this, Polly had to be removed from Andrew Jackson's funeral due to excessive and loud profanity. He also had multiple horses and fighting cocks.

7. John F. Kennedy had both numerous different types of dogs (including a poodle, welsh terrier, cocker spaniel, and Irish wolfhound) and cats, along with multiple types of horses, birds, a rabbit, and butterflies!

Photo Credit: Cecil Stoughton White House Photographs

8. Donald Trump is the first president since James K. Polk to not have a pet in office. For those who frown upon that, show your opinion with Smear Campaign Repooplican Poop Bags!

Did some of these facts shock you?


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