Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Five Presidential Dogs; Besides Every First Family, Lays a First Dog (Most of the Time)…

By Madame Margherite

While some presidents had many pets, some had none, but almost all had at least one dog popularly referred to as the First Dog of the White House. Some of these hounds were made popular due to their mischief while others helped gain presidential notoriety. Some of these First Dogs even had memorials built in their honor and were buried beside their owners.

The first dog on our list is the first “First Dog” ever, a Foxhound not only owned by our first president George Washington, but was also created by our nation’s founding father. Prior to the life of President Washington’s dog, Drunkard, American Foxhounds were non-existent. George Washington’s love for fox hunting motivated him to cross breed seven types of hounds to create the ideal dog to assist him in his sport. The result of such breeding was the American foxhound, a dog breed still loved by our nation. Tippler and Tipsy were also two Foxhounds that resided in Pr. Washington’s White House.

The second First Dog on our list is Veto. While it is unclear what breed of dog Veto was, the origin of his name certainly is. During President James Garfield’s tragically short term in office he was overwhelmed with bills to sign which he was not interested in. So, as a warning to congress he named his dog Veto to detour them from sending any more bills to the White House for him to sign into law.

Third on our list is possibly the most fun mutt in the mix, Pete, the mischievous Bull Terrier owned by President Teddy Roosevelt. This dog was one of a dozen members of the Roosevelt “zoo” of pets but he stood far out among them. Known for his trouble making, Pete had no boundaries as to who he would antagonize. He bit the leg of a naval officer, nearly took the fingers off the hands of Cabinet officers and ripped the pants right off of French Ambassador, Jules Jusserand. This was considered a behavioral disaster for President Roosevelt, and so Pete was sent to live in New York- the perfect place for this Bull “Terror”.

Taking pride in position number four, we have the most famous First Dogs ever, some may even call him a celebrity, Laddie Boy the Airedale of President Warren Harding. This was another president who loved and possessed many dogs, but Laddie Boy was one dog known all over the world, probably because this he would sit on the steps of the White House to greet official delegations, he even had his own hand carved chair to sit in during Cabinet meetings and was often quoted by the press. It’s said that in the final days of President Warren Harding’s life Laddie Boy howled in sorrow day and night. Years later when the beloved Airedale passed away himself, a sculpture was made in his image out of melted down pennies donated by 19,000 members of the Newsboy Association. This sculpture and memory resides at the Smithsonian.

Fifth and final First Dog on this list is one owned by the other President Roosevelt, Fala- a black Scottish terrier. Just like Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt also really loved dogs, and had one for every year he was in office. Fala was made famous after he was accidentally left behind on a presidential trip during Roosevelt’s fourth term run for President. Pr. Roosevelt was ridiculed for spending so much money, thought to be tax dollars, on safely returning Fala home to the White House. Therefore, he responded in a speech known as the Fala Speech where he stated “You can criticize me, my wife and my family, but you can't criticize my little dog. He's Scotch and all these allegations about spending all this money have just made his little soul furious.” This speech quite possibly saved the election for Pr. Roosevelt.

While there have been hundreds of pets to have resided in the White House these are the top five First Dogs for you. Let’s close this article with a few more interesting facts pertaining to Presidents and pets. While President McKinley never owned any pets a mysterious black dog snuck his way into the final photo taken of Pr. William McKinley at Niagara Falls just hours before his assassination. And the 13th president of the United States also was one of the few Presidents to have never owned a dog; however he was the president and one of the founding members of the Buffalo Chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It’s safe to say that the presidents job goes beyond serving the people of the nation, but the pets of our nation as well, thanks for reading.


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