Presidential Pets



  • Lee St. John, a retired educator, knows better but rarely plays by the rules. Author of four paperbacks and ebooks, she also narrates her own audio books. Her newest book, “SHE’S A KEEPER! Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess” is due out this year.

I always said that I would stay out of the political fray. I am NOT discussing politics in these columns. I refuse to express my opinion about anything to do with our current political situation, but I am going to break that rule here and now. As far as I know, President Trump does not currently have a pet in the White House, and that just ain’t right.

From George Washington’s American Staghounds, Coonhounds, and Greyhounds, United States Presidents and their families have often had pets while serving in office. I especially like knowing about the pets and the names they were/are given and why, if there is a story to be told.

President Theodore Roosevelt had more than dogs while he served in office. His collection included guinea pigs, ponies, a hen, a lizard, Manchester Terrier, a blue Macaw, a garter snake, mixed breed dogs, other terriers, a small bear, a piebald rat, a badger, a regular pig, a rabbit, Mongrel, a Pekingese, a Bull terrier, cats, a hyena, a Saint Bernard, barn owl, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and a one-legged rooster. That sounds about right for Teddy.



Here are just a few pets with Teddy and his children

Do you know about the rumors surrounding Franklin Roosevelt, who in 1944 accidentally left behind his Scottish Terrier, Fala, in the Aleutian Islands where he visited? At the taxpayers’ expense, he spent thousands of dollars to retrieve his dog. He explained, “You can criticize me, my wife, and my family, but you can’t criticize my little dog.” That’s good enough for me.

Other presidents who owned and loved their pets included John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. That’s everyone. Except Trump.

I am not saying Trump won’t have a pet in the White House, we just don’t know yet, but I hope he does. And what he might name it would be interesting. One daughter is Tiffany and a son is Barron. Would his pets’ names be as interesting? I had a friend who named his Golden Retriever Midas. That might be a name he’d like.

My baby is named after a Looney Tune cartoon character, of course. Who didn’t love Mel Blanc, the one man behind all the cartoon voices? Although ‘Foghorn Leghorn’ was my favorite (“I say, I say, I say, now boy!”), I couldn’t help but be impressed with his Southern Colonel, all dressed in white like KFC’s Colonel Sanders, calling his dog with his syrupy Southern accent from the front porch of his plantation home, “Oh, Belvedere! Come heah, boy!”

Belvedere was out somewhere way-far-away on the property. Hearing his master’s voice, he came a-runnin’…over bogs, under fallen tree limbs, all-the-while being distracted by squirrels and rabbits, until after some length of time he finally made his way home. But because his erratic journey took so long, the colonel gave up and went inside before his faithful companion made it to the front door. And of course not finding his master after all that trouble, the look on Belvedere’s face was priceless as it demonstrated – “What the…?”

So, we named our Schnauzer: OH! BELVEDERE! or OBie, for short. Here’s a PEEK:

I enjoy hearing how pets get their names. Want to tell me about yours?