Through the Years: Fascinating Photos of Presidential Pets

Presidential pets

After Joe Biden’s dog, Commander, was removed from the White House this week for numerous biting incidents, the Library of Congress published a series of fascinating old photos entitled “Presidential Pets.”

The White House has a long history of presidential pets with almost every Commander-in-Chief keeping animals. Only three have not kept a pet, including Donald Trump.

The first First Dog to receive media attention was Warren G. Harding’s dog Laddie Boy. Laddie Boy had his own hand-carved chair that he would sit in during cabinet meetings.

Laddie Boy
Laddie Boy would receive birthday cakes, as seen here in July 1922.

Perhaps no president is more associated with pets than Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt had six children who owned pets including a small bear named Jonathan Edwards, a hyena, and a blue macaw called Eli Yale.

Roosevelt Jr. with Eli Yale
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. with Eli Yale, a hyacinth macaw, in the White House conservatory, 1902. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston.

The Roosevelts also had lizards, snakes, many guinea pigs, a hen, a rooster, a barn owl, a rabbit, dogs, and a pony. The President was said to love the animals as much as his children.

Meanwhile, his distant relative Franklin once got into a muddle over his Scottish terrier while running for his fourth term.

Roosevelt and Fala
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his dog Fala in the White House Study, December 1941.

FDR was accused of accidentally leaving the dog, named Fala, behind during a visit to the Aleutian Islands and sending back ships to collect him at the expense of the taxpayer.

“You can criticize me, my wife, and my family, but you can’t criticize my little dog. He’s Scottish and all these allegations about spending all this money have just made his little soul furious,” said Roosevelt in a speech that reportedly helped his reelection.

When the Clintons moved into the White House in 1993, they brought along Socks, a tuxedo cat. Socks was later joined by Buddy, a labrador retriever, but the pair did not get along.

Socks, the First Family’s cat during the Clinton presidential administration, on the lawn of the White House.
Socks in the White House
Socks in the White House press briefing room in 1993.

“I did better with the Palestinians and the Israelis than I’ve done with Socks and Buddy,” Bill later quipped.

Harrison family
The son of Benjamin Harrison and children pose with a goat called Old Whiskers in front of the White House, circa 1890.
Prudence Prim
President Calvin Coolidge’s dog Prudence Prim wearing a bonnet at a garden party, June 3, 1926.

The blog shared by the Library of Congress is a warm-up to a visual tour “of the menagerie of animals that have been Presidential pets” held by reference specialist Kristi Finefield. The information for which can be found here.

Image credits: Photographs by Library of Congress