President’s Day

OK.  I am going to give you a list of dog breeds.  And I want you to tell me what they all have in common.  Here we go: Briard, Bulldog, Bull terrier, Airedale terrier, Scottish terrier, Welsh terrier, Manchester terrier, Yorkshire terrier, Wire fox terrier, Afghan, Bouvier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Belgian sheepdog, Old English sheepdog, German Sherpherd, American Foxhound, Black and Tan Coonhound, Italian Greyhound, Greyhound, Newfoundland, Portuguese Water Dog, Chesapeake Bay retriever, Chow chow, Labrador retriever, Golden retriever, English setter, Irish setter, Beagle, Do Erdman Pinscher, English Springer spaniel, Cocker spaniel, Collie, Dachshund, English mastiff, Bullmastiff, Miniature Schnauzer, St. Bernard, Malinois, Eskimo Dog, Irish Wolfhound, Norwegian elkhound, Border collie, Pekingese, Llewelyn setter, Japanese Chin, Weimaraner, Poodle, Siberian husky, and Great Dane.  

They are from from every group of dogs.  Yup – but that’s not the link.  They are all Westminster Best in Show winners.  Nope.  They are the most popular breeds in order.   Nope. Give up?  They are all breeds that have been owned by US Presidents!  And given that today is President’s Day in the US, I though we could talk a bit about Presidential pets.
Not ALL Presidents had dogs – but MANY did.  For example, Andrew Johnson had no pets – just some white mice he found in his bedroom.  In the WHITE House. 
 James Madison had a parrot.  Named Polly.  Of course.
Theodore Roosevelt had a great variety of “pets” including a macaw, a lizard, guinea pigs, a pony, hen, rooster, piebald rat, garter snake, badger, black bear, cats, hyena and an owl.  And of course a variety of dogs including a number of terriers, a Saint Bernard, a Pekingese, multi-bred dogs and a Chesapeake Bay retriever.  Some of those more unusual animals like the bear and the hyena were gifts – and understandably ended up living in zoos.  Mind you, some might call the White House a bit of a zoo.  But I digress.
Calvin Coolidge also had a unique menagerie as well – including raccoons, a donkey, canaries, a bobcat, a wallaby, another black bear (seemed to be a popular gift back in the day), lion cubs, a duiker (google it) and my all time favorite – a pygmy hippopotamus- whose full name was William Johnson Hippopotamus.  His call name was Billy.  Coolidge also had lots of dogs including a Chow chow, bulldog, sheltie, Airedale, Wirehair Fox terrier, Collies, an English setter and a Groenendael.
In terms of interesting Presidential dog facts, here are a few sourced from Wikipedia:
  • George Washington was an avid dog lover, who was instrumental in starting the American Foxhound breed
  • Abraham Lincoln had a dog, who was sadly killed after Lincoln was assassinated.  The dog’s name was Fido. The name is said to be where the generic dog name originated.   So when I refer to “Fido” it dates back to Lincoln’s dog. Who knew?
  • Jimmy Carter’s daughter, Amy, was given a multi breed (mostly Border Collie) dog  by her teacher.  The dog had to be returned when it snapped at several White House guests.  It didn’t say if the teacher was a Republican or Democrat.
  • William Howard Taft’s only “pets” were cows.  When the opera singer, Enrico Caruso performed at the White House, he decided that Taft’s daughter should have a REAL pet.  So he gave her a dog.  Who was aptly named Caruso.
  • John F. Kennedy received a puppy, Pushinka as a gift from the Soviet Union.  The puppy’s mother, Strelka, was one of the dogs who traveled in space.   Pushinka was later bred and it is said that her descendants are still living.  Who knew that one?
  • Lyndon Johnson had beagles, Him and Her (I’m not kidding) and a multi-breed dog named Yuki, who was famous for signing duets with the President.  The pair were said to be inseparable – with Yuki even dancing with the President at his daughter’s wedding. Johnson was said to love dogs.  However  a photo in which he appears to be lifting one of his Beagles by the ears was met with outrage.  Some say that’s part of the reason he lost re-election.  He apologized and said he had been doing that to his dog forever – and the dog did not appear to mind. Hard to know.  I found this audio where he talks about dogs which was released after his retirement from politics… it seems like he did have affection for his canine companions…but as I said – hard to know….
  • George H. W. Bush’s Springer Spaniel,  Millie, wrote a book that reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
  • George W. Bush’s Scottish terrier, Barney, had his own official webpage, and released a series of films called Barneycams.
  • Barack Obama’s First Dog, Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog was chosen because one of Obama’s daughter has allergies – and the breed is said to be hypoallergenic.   The President got backlash for not adopting a rescue.  Because there are SO many hypoallergenic dogs in rescue.  OK.  That was sarcastic.  Anyway, the Obama’s made a donation to the Humane Society – to keep the animal rights people happy.  And then they got a second Portie, named Sunny.  They had also initially considered a doodle.  Thank goodness for the correct choice….
To see a great selection of photos of Presidents and their pets, check out this link:
So that’s your Presidential canine trivia for today.  Note I didn’t say anything snide about the current pets in the White House.  Oh wait – there aren’t any…
Have a good one.  Peace and paws up.
Seizure free days: 8

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