When Barack Obama promised Sasha and Malia that they could bring a puppy to their news digs in DC, the nation went bonkers trying to figure out which breed would be dropping deuces on the South Lawn. Months of pooch predictions ended when late Senator Ted Kennedy gifted the girls Bo, an adorbs (and hypoallergenic!) Portuguese Water Dog.
The current First Pet is generally seen as a social media star and major campaign asset — but could he hurt Barry’s chance of re-election with his carefree canine ways? We ain’t barkin’ up that tree. Instead, we got inspired to dig up some other animal additions to the Oval Office — and y’all won’t believe some of the furry, feathered and scaly creatures from our Presidential past. In order of earliest known Commander-in-Chief companions to most recent, here’s our roundup of the wild White House animal kingdom!
+ John Quincy Adams’ Alligator
In 1826, the Marquis de Lafayette gave this toothy token of diplomatic relations to the 6th President of the United States. The privileged reptile apparently set up digs in the East Room bathroom and slithered the way for more snappy friends to take up residence in the White House — like the 2 gators owned by Herbert Hoover’s son.
+ Teddy Roosevelt’s One-Legged Rooster
Multiple dogs, cats, and guinea pigs called the White House home while Teddy was our 26th Prez — plus there was his Long Island summer home menagerie that included a zebra, hyena, lions, bears and a garter snake named Emily Spinach. But the crowd fave was always this single stanky-legged rooster. The public loves to root for an underbird, right?!
+ Woodrow Wilson’s Flock
Sheep. That’s how the 28th President demonstrated the White House’s war effort during the penny-pinchin’ years of WWI. Instead of paying gardeners, he had some 18 wooly friends that trimmed the lawns. Way to be sustainable, Dubya Dubya! Their first fleece was even auctioned off to raise money for the Red Cross. And who was the star of these amazing landscaping lambs? Old Ike, a tobacco-chewin’ ram. (Note: We do not endorse farm animals’ use of addictive substances.)
+ Warren Harding’s Airedale Terrier, Laddie Boy
As the first First Pooch to get paparazzi-level attention, Harding’s beloved hound was basically the original Britney Spears of Presidential pets. He had a fan club that received so many letters that he needed his own personal secretary. There were songs written about him. He went on public visits to see soldiers. He popped up on newsreels in crowded cinemas. If Bo Obama could talk, he’d def give props to Laddie Boy for setting the stage for his doggie dominance.
+ Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier, Fala
FDR’s faithful terrier was always by his side and soon became canine royalty just like Laddie Boy (cue fan mail and personal secretary) — but this DC dogmance also made the Scottie a target for political haters. GOPers accused the 32nd President of accidentally leaving his barking BFF in the Aleutian Islands and spending a butt-ton of taxpayers’ money for a Navy destroyer to pick up the stranded pooch. FDR then delivered his famous “Fala Speech” in which he ripped the Repubs for picking on his furry buddy with their apparently fictional tale. The high-profile pooch survived the PR scandal and was eventually buried right next to his master — he’s also the only presidential pet to gain statue status (check out his stone replica at the FDR Memorial). Fala #FTW!
+ JFK’s Pony Named Macaroni (& Hollywood Bunnies)
Playboy President JFK was the youngest man elected president and youngest to die. His two kids were also young — newborn John Jr. and toddler Caroline — so the nation got a major case of the “awwwwws” while watching the First Kids frolic with their furry friends. Caroline Kennedy delighted the country with her pony, Macaroni, a gift from former Prez Lyndon Johnson. The elite mini-equine roamed freely around the White House grounds, made for a ridiculously cute C-SPAN sesh and even inspired Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” (oh oh oh!). The dashing 35th Prez also charmed Hollywood (Marilyn Monroe was even a smitten kitten) and that’s how he landed Zsa Zsa, a pair of bunnies from Frank Sinatra for John and Caroline.
+ Richard Nixon’s Cocker Spaniel, Checkers
Before he even became the 37th President, “Tricky Dick” was using ol’ dog tricks to win over voters. Like FDR, he name-dropped his pooch in the so-called “Checkers Speech” to deflect a nasty rumor that he was making illegal dough during his campaign. Nixon admitted he had received one gift — a precious black-and-white puppy for his 6-year-old daughter Patricia sent by a caring citizen who heard they wanted a dog. Heartstrings were pulled thanks to the canine anecdote and Nixon ended up in the Oval Office…for awhile. Even Checkers couldn’t “out-cute” his master from that Watergate hot mess.
+ Ronald Reagan’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Rex
As a former Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan needed a Presidential pooch with serious star power — and he found one in royally adorbs Rex. In his first week on the White House job, the precious pooch flipped the switch on the National Christmas tree — and simultaneously lit up the nation’s love for this breed (which received another spike when Charlotte from “Sex And The City” got Elizabeth Taylor & Co). He survived a tonsillectomy, lived in a super posh doghouse with framed pics of his First Family and according to the 40th President, considered “Marine One his personal dog basket.” Plus he was totes clairvoyant — Rex refused to go in the reportedly haunted Lincoln Bedroom and would stand outside barking his disapproval.
+ George H.W. Bush’s English Springer Spaniel, Millie
Clearly there was a spaniel trend in Presidential pooches. But Millie was an extra special one because she was the first White House pet to try her paw at literature with “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush,” which describes her life as First Dog (you know security briefings and chasing squirrels). Bush Sr. also used his popular pup as a political weapon, saying “My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos” in reference to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, his opponents for re-election in 1992. Pulling the canine card didn’t work this time and he was defeated. Millie also received an animated cameo in “The Simpsons,” which is basically the coolest thing that can happen to man, Lady Gaga or beast.
+ Bill Clinton’s Chocolate Lab, Buddy & Socks the cat
Socks was a stray who jumped into the arms of a young Chelsea Clinton — a fateful leap of feline faith that would eventually land him in the Presidential Briefing Room. A cartoon version of the cat hosted the official kiddie version of the White House website, but his comfy posish as First Pet was soon threatened by a canine challenger: a chocolate lab named Buddy. Former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Socks “despised Buddy from first sight, instantly and forever.” And her hubby Bubba even quipped, “I did better with the Palestinians and the Israelis than I’ve done with Socks and Buddy.” So unforch, Socks was shipped back to Arkansas (don’t worry, he had plenty of catnip saved up from book deals and even a failed video game) while Buddy held down the fort in DC.
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