Feeling pawtriotic? Then it’s the perfect day to look at some of the best-known presidential pups and how they impacted their owners, better known as the former (and current) Presidents of the United States of America. These DC dogs woofed their ways into the White House and the hearts of a nation.
Fala – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Republicans accused Franklin D. Roosevelt of leaving the Aleutian Islands without his Scottish terrier Fala in tow, specifically that he wound up spending quite a lot of money to get him back with the help of a US Navy destroyer. He wound up giving an impassioned speech about how, while he didn’t resent the attacks on his character, Fala absolutely took umbrage to these lies, and Roosevelt couldn’t sit idly by while they dragged his dog’s name through the mud. It was funny, adorable, yet pointed, and was all thanks to occasional speech writing assistant Orson Welles.
Him and Her – Lyndon B. Johnson
Don’t be mean to your pups, definitely in public. Especially when you’re the president. Former president Lyndon B. Johnson picked up his two beagles named Him and Her by the ears to show off this neat little trick to some journalists. Apparently this was to make them bark, likely with displeasure. Images of his display were shared in newspapers around the country and it was met with resounding judgment.
Laddie Boy – Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding’s Airedale terrier Laddie Boy was beloved by everyone. He was a faithful, sweet dog and was the first presidential pup to receive national attention. When Harding died, paperboys saved up their pennies (literally over 19,000 of them) to be made into a statue of LaddieBoy in his honor. The statue is now in the Smithsonian Institution as a testament to this first famous White House dog.
Checkers – Richard Nixon
What do you when you’re accused of financial impropriety? Bring your dog into it! Piggybacking off of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fala speech, the Checkers speech was then senator Richard Nixon’s attempt at keeping his place as the Republican vice presidential nomination by bringing up the only gift he was planning on keeping: an American cocker spaniel named Checkers. Well, it worked. He dodged concerns about his funding and eventually became president, thanks in large part to the anecdote about his pup. Dogs play well with middle America!
Rex – Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan was all about the dogs. He had an incredible amount in his life, but a cavalier King Charles spaniel named Rex held a special place in his heart. He has (at least) two very stylish homes. His dog house in the White House was christened by none other than Zsa Zsa Gabor, and his dog house after Reagan’s time as president was a miniature version of the White House. It’s a suitable place to retire.
Barney and Miss Beazley – George W. Bush
Whatever your opinion of George W. Bush, you have to hand it to him: he has excellent taste in canine companions. Barney and Ms. Beazley are two gorgeous Scottish terriers who have become muses for the former president, along with his other animal friends. In his retirement, he has taken up the paintbrush and has spent much of his artistic journey immortalizing his dogs on canvas. It may seem like an odd choice for someone who was the leader of the free world, but we all need to relax with a hobby.
Bo and Sunny – Barack Obama
The Obamas have two Portuguese water dogs named Sunny and Bo. This breed has definitely seen an upswing in popularity since the POTUS and FLOTUS adopted these cute and curly creatures. Why did they opt for the breed? Asides from their dependable demeanors and teddy bear features, they’re hypoallergenic, which is important for their daughter Malia. Not only are they lovable and less likely to make you sneeze, Bo has even written for the New York Times! Granted, he had an interpreter, but I’d like to see the average dog get that kind of an audience.