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Famous Presidential Dogs from Eisenhower to Obama

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Even with the U.S. presidential election behind us, times are still proving a little crazy. It’s hard to find a happy-go-lucky news story when our candidates’ campaigns have been hit by scandal, untruths and oversights. With all of this, what good can come of 2016’s election?

The First Dog!

Looking at designer dog collars and don’t know which one to go with? Maybe your favorite First Dog can help!

For the Love of Dogs

Part of the fun of getting a new president in the White House is the day the First Family announces when they will be expanding their family to include a four-legged playmate. It has become a long-standing tradition to have a First Dog in the white house, having started with our first president, George Washington. For our readers’ sake, we’re going to take a look at the First Dogs who have won the hearts of the nation and reminded us that there is a friendly and loving personage in the White House, starting with President Eisenhower.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President

heidi the weimaraner A noted bad girl, President Eisenhower’s weimaraner Heidi was banned from the White House after she had had one too many accidents on the White House carpets. But this didn’t stop the President from loving his four-legged friend. Eisenhower said of Heidi in a letter he wrote to Arthur Summerfield (the man who gifted Eisenhower and his family with the weimaraner) that “Heidi is definitely an asset to life in the White House. She cavorts on the South Lawn at a great rate, with such important projects as chasing squirrels and investigating what might be under bushes. She is beautiful and well-behaved (occasionally she tends toward stubbornness but is then immediately apologetic about it) and she is extremely affectionate and happy.”

John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President

There were many pups who trounced through the White House halls, but none were perhaps so infamous as Pushinka, the mutt gifted to the Kennedy family by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Pushinka was the offspring of the Soviet space explorer Strelka, one of the first dogs to fly upwards into space and return from the trip alive. After the First Lady had asked after Strelka and her new pups, Khrushchev decided to send the President and his family one of the puppies. Pushinka, meaning “Fluffy” in Russian, was as much a gift of goodwill to the First Family as it was a thumb-nosed snuff. The American public fell in love with Pushinka, and when she herself had puppies with young Caroline’s Welsh Terrier Charlie, requests for puppy adoptions came pouring into the White House.

Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th U.S. President

Like Kennedy, President Johnson had more than one dog, the two most famous being beagles Him and Her. Photographed often with the pups in tow, Johnson caused a media firestorm when images of him picking up Him by the ears hit newspapers. Sadly, there was more to befall Him and Her. Her died after swallowing stone when she wasn’t more than two years old, and Him died when he was run over by a car at age three, but not before fathering a litter of puppies. Johnson’s daughter Luci kept one of the pups, with another being adopted by a White House staffer after the Johnson family left office.

Richard M. Nixon, 37th U.S. President

checkers nixon Before he was to become president over a decade later, Richard Nixon’s dog Checkers made national headlines as being the furry hero that saved his career. In 1952, the then-vice presidential nominee stood accused of getting “expense fund” money from wealthy businessmen in California. In his nationwide speech addressing the allegation, Nixon said it was your “typical left-wing smear.”

Addressing the nation, Nixon discussed his financial history and ended it with anecdote of how his family happened upon their beloved Cocker Spaniel Checkers. Explaining this “debt of gratitude,” Nixon shared with his U.S. audience that night that there was “one other thing I should probably tell you, because if I don’t they’ll probably be saying this about me, too-we did get something, a gift, after the election…the day before we left on this campaign trip, we got a message from the Union Station in Baltimore, saying they had a package for us. It was a little Cocker Spaniel dog…and our little six-year-old girl Tricia named it Checkers. And you know the kids, like all kids, love the dog and…regardless of what they say about it, we’re going to keep it.”

By representing himself as a loving father figure, Nixon was able to assuage any public doubt about him, that is until Watergate.

Gerald Ford, 38th U.S. President

It was President Ford’s daughter Susan who introduced the First Family to Liberty, an eight-month-old Golden Retriever who became the First Dog soon after a shame-faced Nixon left the oval office. Liberty and Ford became inseparable, and the duo could be found walking the garden lawns together. A short time later the Fords decided to breed Liberty. A mother to nine puppies, the nation’s heart was warmed by the golden girl and her adorable litter. Letters poured in from the public remarking on the sweetness of the doggie clan. The Fords had a rubber stamp specially made using Liberty’s measurements so that responses from the White House regarding her and the pups were signed expressly by her.

Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President

Soon after Jimmy Carter and family moved into the White House, they too were gifted with a dog by daughter Amy’s elementary school teacher, a sweet border collie mix they named Gritz. Many pictures were taken of Gritz with his new family, but he was soon returned to the teacher, without much explanation. Rumors surfaced that Gritz had some behavioral issues, he apparently didn’t get on well with the First Family’s cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang.

Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

Similar to some of his predecessors, President Reagan received the First Dog as a gift. Ronald and Nancy Reagan met Rex the cavalier king charles spaniel on Christmas Day. Naming the pup after White House chief usher at the time, Rex Scouten, one of the pup’s fitting official first duties was to light the national Christmas tree.

George H.W. Bush, 41st U.S. President

The First Dog during President George H.W. Bush’s administration was a springer spaniel named Millie, and she was the first First Dog to write her own book! Aptly titled Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush, the book describes the day in the life of the Bush family and administration.

Bill Clinton, 42nd U.S. President

buddy clinton Buddy the chocolate lab moved to his new address in 1997 at three months old. When it was announced that there was a new Clinton family member, Clinton’s spokesman Mike McCurry quipped that “it’s the President’s desire to have one loyal friend in Washington.” The pup was named after Bill’s favorite great-uncle Henry “Buddy” Grisham, who died shortly before the Clintons’ adopted the pup. Buddy quickly melted the nation’s heart and even had his own fan club.

George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. President

The puppy of Millie, President George H.W. Bush’s springer spaniel, Spot, was adopted by George W. and his wife Laura Bush. Named after the Texas Rangers shortstop Scott Fletcher, Spot loved life on the Bush; ranch-pouncing on grasshoppers, chasing birds and jumping in ponds were her specialties. Spot was an outdoorsy sort of dog, but Bush oft remarked that “Spot understands the decorum of the Oval Office, so she gets to go in.”

Barack Obama, 44th U.S. President

With the title of Canine Ambassador , President Obama’s Portuguese water dogs Bo and Sunny entertain White House guests and crowds at the annual Easter Egg Roll and visit hospitalized children every year with First Lady Michelle Obama. The First Lady has final approval of their schedules, and she and the President comment on how hard-working and loving their pups are.

The only question remaining, is will president-elect Trump continue with the first-dog tradition? We’ll just have to wait and see.

You can judge a person by how they treat and talk about their dogs. For better or worse, these Presidents had some pretty amazing furry family members. Inspired by what you’ve read? Visit Hot Dog Collars to learn more about dogs and all the doggie accessories they’ll need to succeed!

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