White House Pets: The Adorable And Weird Creatures Keeping U.S. Presidents Company (PHOTOS)


The sad passing of George W. Bush's Scottish terrier Barney last week got us thinking about the many animals who have kept company with the country's chief executives.

Presidents have kept interesting pets since the beginning. George Washington, like many of his successors, had horses and dogs. Washington's many dogs -- some given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette, who left France in 1777 to join the American Revolution -- included one named Drunkard and another called Sweet Lips.

Even more exotically, in 1826, John Quincy Adams received a pet alligator from that same Marquis de Lafayette. The alligator was reportedly kept in a bathtub.

Martin Van Buren, meanwhile, is said to have gotten two tiger cubs as gifts from the Sultan of Oman. Rumors apparently spread that "two or three Circassian slaves of outstanding beauty" had also been sent, which might have further complicated the president's already-complex stance on slavery.

Calvin Coolidge kept what might be the most impressive menagerie. Here's the Presidential Pet Museum's long list:

Calvin and Grace Coolidge literally had a zoo at the White House. Most famous and beloved was the white collie, purchased from Thomas and Olive shover who owned "Shomont White Collies". They also entertained and cared for: Peter Pan, a Terrier, Paul Pry, an Airedale, that was originally named Laddie Buck. and Rob Roy, a white Collie, originally named Oshkosh. Also popular was Calamity Jane, a Shetland Sheepdog. Tiny Tim, a Chow, Blackberry, also a Chow, and Ruby Rough, a brown Collie. They also had Boston Beans, a bulldog, King Kole, a police dog, Bessie, a yellow collie, Palo Alto, a bird dog, and Nip and Tuck, canaries. Snowflake, was also a white canary and Old Bill was a thrush. Enoch, was a goose and they had a Mockingbird belonging to Mrs. Grace Coolidge. Finally there was Tiger, an alley cat, Blacky, another cat and Rebecca and Horace, raccoons. We must not forget Ebenezer, the donkey and Smokey, a bobcat. Given to them by dignitaries from other countries there was also: lion cubs, wallaby,a pigmy hippo, and a bear

Sadly, we couldn't find a single photo of Coolidge's pigmy hippo. But we got hold of lots of other presidential companions:

William Howard Taft's cow Pauline

Presidential Pets

Want to know more about chief executive pets? The Washington Humane Society is holding a signing of "President Adams' Alligator" on February 10.

And you can always travel to Glen Allen, Virginia, to visit the Presidential Pet Museum in person.

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