White House pets, from adorable to very weird

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  • During his one-term presidency, Donald Trump bucked any number of traditions, including the presence of a White House pet. Most presidents over the years have brought one or more animals into the White House. In fact, James Polk and Donald Trump are the only presidents to never have a First Pet.

    In contrast, Joe and Jill Biden have brought two German shepherds to Washington. One of them, Major, is credited as the first White House rescue dog in American history.

    Since 1999, The Presidential Pet Museum has kept a record of the diverse creatures that have belonged to the leaders of the free world. And some of them are pretty… different. From raccoons and badgers to cats and dogs, enjoy our photo gallery of the presidential pets. 

    Credit: Stephanie Gomez Carter/Delaware Humane Association/Bettman/Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

  • Major is a purebred German shepherd that was surrendered with five other puppies in early 2018 and adopted by the Bidens in November of that year. Major was honored with a special “indoguration” to help raise money for the Delaware Humane Association.

    Credit: White House photo

  • In 2008, then VP nominee Joe Biden reportedly promised wife Jill that they would get a dog should Barack Obama win the presidency. Jill did not let him forget his promise, taping pictures of different dogs on the back of their campaign plane. Champ was adopted from a breeder later that year.  

    The Bidens also have plans to adopt a cat

    Credit: Courtesy of the White House

  • President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Coolidge, who served from 1923 to 1929, had a hard time turning down the company of an animal. In 1926, they were gifted a raccoon for their Thanksgiving meal. They decided to keep it as a pet. Rebecca, as she came to be known, was often seen in Grace’s arms or atop Calvin’s neck. Eventually, Rebecca became too feisty and was donated to what is now the Smithsonian National Zoo.

    Credit: Library of Congress

  • Socks the cat, seen here riding President Bill Clinton’s shoulder during a walk, was adopted in 1991 in Little Rock, Ark. He became an instant sensation among White House photographers during the Clinton presidency (1993-2001), so much so that the president had to ask them to leave the poor cat alone. That’s a sentiment he may have had to share with Buddy, the Clintons’ dog, as well, as the two pets reportedly had a rocky relationship. 

    Credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Image

  • President Lyndon B. Johnson, who served from 1963 to 1969, was another dog lover. He even had the White House doghouse redesigned to be more spacious. Although he cared for six dogs during his presidency, the most famous were the beagles Him and Her, pictured here. 

    Credit: Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

  • While running for office in 2008, President Barack Obama promised his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, that he would get them a dog if he should win. When that came to pass, he was gifted Bo, a Portuguese water dog, from Senator Ted Kennedy. In this picture from 2009, the first family takes Bo for a walk on the White House lawn.

    Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

  • In 2013, Bo was joined by Sunny, another Portuguese water dog. The pair is seen here greeting children of military families in the State Dining Room of the White House.

    Credit: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • Calvin, Grace and John Coolidge pose with their white collies, Prudence Prim and Rob Roy. President Coolidge revealed in his autobiography that among all of his family’s dogs, the collies were his favorite.

    Credit: Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

  • First lady Grace Coolidge and collie Prudence Prim are seen here wearing fancy bonnets for a White House garden party in 1926. 

    Credit: Underwood Archives/Getty Images

  • On March 25, 1924, Officer Benjamin Fink found President Coolidge’s missing cat, Tiger, at the Navy Building, and promptly returned him to the White House. News of the tabby’s disappearance had been broadcast by Washington, D.C. radio stations. 

    Credit: National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress

  • Pauline Wayne, the cow pictured here in front of the old Executive Office Building, belonged to President William Taft. Pauline Wayne grazed the White House lawn during Taft’s presidency from 1909 to 1913 and provided milk and butter for the first family. 

    Credit: Library of Congress/Public Domain

  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served from 1933 until his death in 1945, was known to have six dogs. In this photo, Major, his German shepherd, sits with him in his car outside his home in Hyde Park, New York.

    According to “The Pawprints of History: Dogs and the Course of Human Events,” by Stanley Coren, Major nearly tore the pants of British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald during an official state visit to the White House in 1933.  

    Credit: FPG/Getty Images

  • President Clinton poses with Buddy, his Labrador retriever, on the White House lawn in 1999. Buddy was acquired as a puppy in 1997 during Mr. Clinton’s second term. Presidential spokesman Mike McCurry told the media that Buddy was adopted because “It’s the president’s desire to have one loyal friend in Washington.”

    Credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

  • President George H. W. Bush, who served from 1989 to 1993, had an English springer spaniel named Millie. In this photo from 1990, Millie, Mr. Bush and his granddaughter, Marshall Lloyd, look over Kennebunkport, Maine while riding in Air Force One.

    Credit: David Valdez/White House/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

  • Millie would go on to have five puppies, seen here with the president on the White House lawn. Two of these puppies, Ranger and Spot, would become presidential pets in their own right. 

    Credit: Michael Sargent/White House/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

  • In this photo from 1989, President Bush lies flat on his back while Millie’s puppies take a nap on his arm and leg.

    Credit: Susan Biddle/White House/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

  • Roosevelt once gifted his son Archie a pet badger named Josiah. Josiah was a “good-natured” badger that Archie said was nice enough to only bite legs, not faces. Eventually, Josiah became too temperamental to handle and was donated to the Bronx Zoo.

    Credit: Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library/Dickinson State University/Library of Congress

  • President George W. Bush, who served from 2001 to 2009, and Prime Minister Tony Blair walk Spot, Millie’s offspring, at Camp David. Spot’s full name is “Spot Fetcher,” a nod to Scott Fletcher, the former Texas Rangers’ shortstop. Mr. Bush was the managing general partner of the Rangers from 1989 to 1994.

    Credit: LUKE FRAZZA/AFP via Getty Images

  • In addition to Spot, President Bush also had Scottish terriers Barney and Miss Beazley, as well as India the cat. Barney was a gift to the president and first lady Laura Bush from Christine Todd Whitman (then head of the Environmental Protection Agency) in 2000. Miss Beazley was a birthday gift from George to Laura in 2005. Meanwhile, India had been a member of the family since 1991. The three are seen here celebrating Valentine’s Day in 2007.

    Credit: Paul Morse/White House photo

  • President Woodrow Wilson, who served from 1913 to 1921, attempted to trim the budget in many ways during World War I. One solution was to allow sheep to graze the White House lawn in order to cut down on groundskeeping costs. 

    Credit: Library of Congress

  • President Johnson plays with Him and Her on the White House lawn in 1964. Him and Her were the offspring of another of Johnson’s dogs, who was bluntly named “Beagle.”

    Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

  • Him sired a litter of puppies in 1965. One of these dogs is Freckles, who would become another White House beagle for President Johnson.  

    Credit: Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

  • President Johnson walks Him and his collie Blanco while members of the press look on. Blanco was a gift to the president from Lois Nelson, a 9-year-old from Illinois. One year, Mr. Johnson’s White House Christmas cards featured Blanco and Him’s paw prints in addition to the president’s signature.

    Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

  • President Abraham Lincoln had several pets during his lifetime. His most famous is this yellow, mixed-breed dog credited by the Presidential Pet Museum for popularizing the name “Fido.” The Lincoln family’s favorite dog was left in the care of a friend in Springfield, Illinois, because they believed the bustle of Washington would be too much for Fido to handle. 

    Credit: F.W. Ingmire/Public Domain

  • Lincoln’s carriage horse, Old Bob (or possibly Old Robin), was also left in Illinois. However, he was brought out of retirement to follow the hearse in Lincoln’s funeral procession in 1865. He is pictured here in funerary garb with Henry Brown, who led him during the procession.

    Credit: Public Domain

  • President Theodore Roosevelt and his family were huge animal lovers who brought a menagerie to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during his two terms, from 1901 to 1909. Here they are pictured with Skip the rat terrier. Skip helped the White House combat a rat infestation and is believed to be part of the inspiration for the Teddy Roosevelt terrier breed. 

    Credit: Pach Brothers/Library of Congress

  • Seen here: Quentin Roosevelt mounted on his pony, Algonquin. Quentin received the Shetland pony, which had been imported from Iceland, as a gift from Secretary of the Interior Ethan Allen Hitchcock. The Washington Post described Algonquin as a “good-natured, though spirited little beast.”

    Credit: Library of Congress

  • St. Nicholas Magazine did an illustration of a gossip-worthy incident: Roosevelt’s cat Slippers, immune to manners, blocked the pathway of dignitaries during a formal dinner. 

    Credit: St. Nicholas Magazine

  • Theodore Roosevelt Jr. poses with Eli Yale, a hyacinth macaw parrot, in the White House conservatory in 1902.  

    Credit: Library of Congress

  • Theodore Roosevelt spending time with Rollo the Saint Bernard. Rollo was a gift from family friend Alfred S. Rollo in 1902. Roosevelt wrote to Rollo requesting he not send the gift, given that his family already had three collies and four other dogs (among other animal responsibilities). According to this photo, that request was denied. 

    Credit: Charles L. Ritzmann/Houghton Library, Harvard University

  • President Ronald Reagan, who served from 1981 to 1989, had many dogs, including Lucky, a Bouvier des Flandres. In this photo, Mr. Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher walk Lucky on the White House lawn in 1985. 

    Credit: Bettman/Getty Images

  • In this picture from 1982, President Ronald Regan and first lady Nancy Reagan play with Lucky and their golden retriever, Victory, at their ranch in Santa Barbara, California.

    Credit: Time Life Pictures/White House/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

  • Here’s Nancy and Ronald Reagan with Rex, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Rex was a 1985 Christmas gift to the president and first lady from conservative writer and commentator William F. Buckley.

    Credit: Pete Souza/Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

  • President Reagan was an avid horse rider. One of his favorite horses was El Alamein, a gift from Lopez Portillo, the president of Mexico. 

    Credit: Pete Souza/Ronald Reagan Presidential Library/National Archives and Records Administration

  • This 1977 portrait shows first daughter Amy Carter with Misty Malarky Ying Yang, her Siamese cat. The feline lived in the bedroom suite and was kept a safe distance from Annette Carter’s parakeet, Blueberry. 

    Credit: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

  • President Jimmy Carter, who served one term starting in 1974, petting Grits the border collie on the South Lawn of the White House. Grits was a gift from his daughter Amy Carter’s teacher. The animal was returned to the teacher after two years, reportedly for behavioral issues, including soiling the White House carpets and getting into scuffles with Amy’s cat. This photo was taken in 1978.

    Credit: AP Photo

  • President Harry S. Truman, who served from 1945 to 1953, was not a dog lover. In fact, when a woman from Missouri sent him a crate containing a cocker spaniel named Feller, Truman gave the dog to his doctor. This reportedly caused thousands of angry letters from the public. 

    Credit: AP Photo/Bill Smith

  • President Ulysses S. Grant, who served from 1869 to 1877, was a renowned horseback rider and is often depicted atop his favorite horses. This horse, Cincinnati, served with him during the Civil War and was one of three horses to be brought to the White House stables. 

    Credit: William Sartain/Public Domain

  • General Ulysses S. Grant and Cincinnati are seen here posing for the camera in 1864. Cincinnati, along with the carriage horse Egypt and wartime mount Jeff Davis, were brought to the White House stables when Grant became president in 1868. 

    Credit: Public Domain

  • Dash was a mixed-breed collie that President Benjamin Harrison, who served from 1889 to 1893, gave to his grandchildren as a gift. He was well liked at the White House and had his own dog-sized White House constructed on the grounds. 

    Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston/Public Domain

  • In addition to dogs, Harrison had a pet goat named Old Whiskers. Whiskers is seen here with Major Russell Harrison, his children and one of the family dogs on the White House lawn in 1883. 

    Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • President Herbert Hoover had at least nine dogs, the most famous of which was King Tut, a Belgian shepherd. This portrait of the two was taken to bolster the public image of Hoover for the 1928 presidential election. When Hoover won the presidency, King Tut joined the White House police force as a patrol dog. 

    Credit: Theodor Horydczak/Library of Congress

  • President Richard Nixon with his Irish setter, King Timahoe. Timahoe was a gift from Nixon’s staff during 1969, the first year of his presidency. He is named after the village in Ireland where Nixon’s ancestors lived. 

    Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

  • King Timahoe, Pasha the Yorkshire terrier and Vicki the miniature poodle pose for a doggie Christmas celebration at the White House in December 1969. 

    Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

  • President Warren G. Harding, who served from 1921 until his death in 1923, owned an Airedale terrier named Laddie Boy. The two are seen here on the steps of the White House.  

    Credit: New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images

  • President Harding, first lady Florence Harding and Laddie Boy watch the Easter Monday egg-rolling event from the balcony of the White House, circa 1922. 

    Credit: FPG/Keystone View Company/Archive Photos/Getty Images

  • Perhaps Roosevelt’s most famous dog was his Scottish terrier, Fala, seen here. Fala’s full name is Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, a reference to the famed Scot John Murray.

    Credit: George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

  • This picture of Roosevelt, Fala, and Ruthie Bie (granddaughter of the Hyde Park home’s caretaker), taken by Roosevelt’s sixth cousin, is one of the only photographs showing the president in his wheelchair. 

    Credit: Margaret Suckley/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • Fala has the distinct honor of being immortalized alongside FDR at his memorial in Washington, D.C. Fala was buried next to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt at their estate in Hyde Park.

    Credit: LUNAMARINA/Getty Images

  • President John F. Kennedy and his family kept numerous dogs, a cat, birds, hamsters, a rabbit and horses during their stay at the White House. Mr. Kennedy served as president from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.

    Credit: Cecil W. Stoughton/Wikimedia Commons

  • Charlie (left) and Pushinka (right) sit outside the Kennedy White House. Pushinka’s mother, Strelka, was a Soviet space dog that had orbited Earth aboard Sputnik 2. Pushinka was a gift to Kennedy from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, possibly to rub in the fact that the Soviets were ahead in the space race. Charlie and Pushinka would go on to have puppies of their own. 

    Credit: CORBIS/Getty Images

  • President Gerald R. Ford, who served from 1974 to 1977, plays with his golden retriever, Liberty. The retriever was a gift from daughter Susan and personal photographer David Hume Kennerly. 

    Credit: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

  • Liberty gets some scratches behind the ears while Mr. Ford looks over budget matters in the Oval Office in 1974.

    Credit: Ricardo Thomas/White House/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

  • President Ford and Liberty take a swim in the pool at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in 1975. The same year, Liberty was bred with another golden retriever and gave birth to nine puppies.

    Credit: Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

  • This 1974 photo shows daughter Susan Ford posing with Shan, her Siamese cat. Shan reportedly spent her days trying to avoid Liberty at all costs. 

    Credit: David Hume Kennerly/Gerald R. Ford Library

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