By the Contributors of Kaboose.com
Image Courtesy of: The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
John Quincy Adams had a pet alligator that he kept in a bathtub in the East Room. (It was a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette.) Thomas Jefferson had two grizzly bears and a mockingbird named Dick. Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of sheep to graze on the White House lawn and keep it trim during the war.
White House pets have a long and illustrious history of being unwavering allies to the President and the First Family. As President Harry S. Truman put it bluntly, “If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog.” To commemorate this sentimental and historical bond between master and pet, check out our parade of some of the White House’s most beloved denizens:
President: George W. Bush
Years in Office: January 20, 1989-January 20, 1993
Voted “Ugliest Dog” in the Capital by Washingtonian magazine, Millie was a pet springer spaniel and the subject of a cheeky 141-page “dogobiography” that described her busy schedule, from chasing squirrels to sitting in on morning briefings. Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush became a bestseller and raised more than $1 million in royalties for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. More than 400,000 copies were sold.
Millie had a litter of six puppies, including Spot Fetcher and Ranger. Spot was the only pet to reside at the White House twice, first as a puppy with President George G. W. Bush, and then as the pet of his son, President George W. Bush.
Millie, whose full name was Mildred Kerr Bush, died at the age of 12 of pneumonia. The 15-acre Millie Bush Dog Park was opened in Houston in 2004.
As Millie related to Barbara Bush, the First Lady: “I overheard the Bushes talking the other night. Some discussion about me keeping a lower profile.”
President: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Years in Office: March 4, 1933-April 12, 1945
This Scottish terrier was an early Christmas gift to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. Fala was a media darling whose antics were widely publicized. At one point, he was placed on a strict diet, after suffering terribly from being overfed. On September 24, 1944, President Roosevelt delivered his famous “Fala speech,” in which he cleverly addressed outrageous rumors against him and his family by stating that Fala was quite "furious" about the reported lies.
Fala’s name was an abbreviation of Murray, the Outlaw of Fala Hill, after a famous Scottish relative, John Murray of Fala Hill. Fala died two days before his 12th birthday. He survived Franklin Roosevelt by seven years and was buried alongside him.
A statue of Fala can be seen as part of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. He is the only presidential pet to receive such an honor.
In her autobiography, On My Own, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote: “It was Fala, my husband’s little dog, who never really adjusted. Once, in 1945, when General Eisenhower came to lay a wreath on Franklin’s grave, the gates of the regular driveway were opened and his automobile approached the house accompanied by the wailing of the sirens of a police escort. When Fala heard the sirens, his legs straightened out, his ears pricked up and I knew that he expected to see his master coming down the drive as he had come so many times….Fala accepted me after my husband’s death, but I was just someone to put up with until the master should return.”