Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Hailey. Hailey Wonders, “Do presidents have pets?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Hailey!
The White House might be the most famous house in America. Of course, some of the most important figures in American history have called it home. You might know the names of many of the Presidents who have lived in the White House. But what about Jack, Grits, and Ebenezer?
What? You haven’t heard of these names? Then get ready to learn about some of the White House’s most beloved inhabitants. They made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue without a single vote. That’s right, we’re talking about the presidents’ pets!
The tradition of “First Pets” dates all the way back to the first President, George Washington. He had hound dogs, a donkey named “Royal Gift,” and a horse called “Nelson.” Since then, only three presidents (James K. Polk, Andrew Johnson, and Donald Trump) have lived in the White House without any pets.
What kinds of animals do presidents tend to have as pets? All kinds! Dogs and cats are pretty popular. However, some presidents have had very interesting pets. For example, Calvin Coolidge had a bobcat, mockingbird, antelope, wallaby, and lion cubs. He even owned a pygmy hippo.
Presidents have owned kangaroos, flying squirrels, and raccoons. There have also been ponies, pigs, cows, and lizards in the White House. President Theodore Roosevelt even kept a pet snake named “Emily Spinach.”
Many breeds of dogs have roamed the halls of the White House. There have been Labradors, beagles, Scottish terriers, Irish wolfhounds, bull terriers, St. Bernards, greyhounds, and English mastiffs. Of course, presidents have also owned more than a few WONDERful mixed mutts.
Not only have these First Dogs had unusual lives, some of them have had very unusual names, too. Lyndon B. Johnson named his beagles “Him” and “Her.” Though little, George W. Bush’s Scottish terrier came with the very dignified name of “Miss Beazley.” Franklin D. Roosevelt had a Great Dane named “President.” James Garfield’s dog answered to the name “Veto.”
In January 2021, President Joe Biden moved into the White House. He brought along two German shepherd dogs. One of them, named “Major,” became the first presidential pet to come from a shelter. On Inauguration Day, the Delaware Humane Association, which had once housed Major, raised over $200,000 to help care for other shelter pets.
Presidents may have one of the most challenging and important jobs around. Still, most of them have found comfort and joy in the company of family pets. During a press conference in 2009, President Obama was asked if he would allow his dog, Bo, in the Oval Office. His response? “Of course.”
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2