Macaroni the Pony and Other Presidential Pets

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Macaroni the Pony and Other Presidential Pets
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Throughout history, the families of U.S. presidents have been revered and honored almost as much as the great leaders themselves. Yet crucial family members are often forgotten: the pets. From Obama's Bo to JFK's Macaroni to Clinton's Socks, the presidents' canine/equine/feline companions have played important roles in our leaders' lives. Some presidents appreciated the unconditional loyalty of their pets, while others can credit their furry pals with helping save face during an election or scandal (we're looking at you, Hoover and Nixon). Over 400 animals have had the privilege of calling the White House home; we've highlighted twelve of our favorites.

Bo, Barack Obama's Portuguese Water Dog
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Bo, Barack Obama's Portuguese Water Dog

Be honest: had you ever heard of a Portuguese water dog before Bo Obama pawed his way onto the scene in early 2009? We hadn’t either, but the curly black-and-white First Dog definitely has stolen our hearts. Portuguese water dogs are non-shedding, making them ideal pets for allergy sufferers, according to the American Kennel Club. But don’t rush out to the breeder just yet! Portuguese water dogs are in high demand, and responsible breeders carefully screen potential adoption candidates to make sure they are the proper fit for a new puppy.

Find out if a Portuguese water dog is the right fit for your family

Barney and Miss Beazley, George W. Bush's Scottish Terriers
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Barney and Miss Beazley, George W. Bush's Scottish Terriers

Bernard “Barney” Bush arrived at the White House with his owners in 2001. He was joined four years later by his niece Miss Beazley, also a Scottish terrier. Together the two roamed the halls of the White House, accompanied the president and first lady on trips around the country, and starred in multiple videos aptly titled the “Barney Cam.” Scottish terriers are generally lovable, family-friendly dogs, but be warned: they were originally bred to hunt vermin, and that instinct still runs strong. Always walk your Scottish terrier on a leash, or he’ll chase after the first squirrel he sees!

Learn more about the Scottish terrier

Socks, Bill Clinton's American Shorthair Cat
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Socks, Bill Clinton's American Shorthair Cat

Socks Clinton, a black and white tuxedo cat, was a White House fixture in the '90s. He joined his owners at the White House in 1992, where he was often spotted roaming the grounds freely. Although generally friendly, Socks did have a bit of trouble with Buddy, the Labrador puppy adopted by the Clintons in 1997. The two never warmed up to one another. Adopting a new puppy or kitten and don't want to upset your current dog or cat? Be patient. Introduce them slowly, and always under your supervision. They need to feel secure when around the other animal.

Get more tips for training cats and dogs to live together

Millie and Ranger, George H.W. Bush's Springer Spaniels
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Millie and Ranger, George H.W. Bush's Springer Spaniels

Millie Bush may be the most accomplished presidential pet in history. She has, after all, written her own bestseller, "Millie's Book," about life in the White House. And busy little Millie didn't stop there. President Bush's springer spaniel also gave birth to a litter of puppies during her tenure as first dog--a true working mom! One pup, Ranger, stayed on to become the Bush family's second White House pet. Is your dog having puppies? Offer her soothing comforts such as a therapeutic paw or back massage.

Ensure your dog has a smooth pregnancy by making her as comfortable as possible

Liberty, Gerald Ford's Golden Retriever
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Liberty, Gerald Ford's Golden Retriever

Perhaps the most patriotic presidential pet, Liberty Ford was a surprise from First Daughter Susan Ford and photographer David Hume Kennerly. In a speech, President Ford described the kennel owner's intense questions about the dog's future family: "The kennel owner said, 'This is a big dog. Will it have enough to eat? Does the father have a steady job?' Well, on that question, they [Susan and David] were stuck a bit." It's a funny story, but the kennel owner was right. Pets require time and money; ensure you have the resources available before looking for an animal companion.

See more of Gerald Ford's description of Liberty the golden retriever

Checkers, Richard Nixon's Cocker Spaniel
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Checkers, Richard Nixon's Cocker Spaniel

One of Nixon's canine pals, the famous cocker spaniel named Checkers, played a crucial role in helping Nixon's early career. While fighting to remain Dwight Eisenhower's running mate, Nixon was accused of misusing monetary contributions. Though denying the accusations, he admitted to accepting one gift, a puppy named Checkers: "And you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it." The public was moved, and Nixon kept his spot on the Republican ticket.

Read all of Nixon's infamous speech about Checkers

Him and Her, Lyndon Johnson's Beagles
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Him and Her, Lyndon Johnson's Beagles

Brother/sister pair Him and Her were LBJ's famous beagles, who stirred up a bit of controversy for the president when he was photographed holding Him by the ears. Are you looking to add a beagle to your menagerie? The American Kennel Club explains that members of this breed are pack animals and therefore get along well with other dogs and humans. Just make sure you exercise and play with your beagles daily--they're very curious dogs, thanks to their strong noses and origins as hunters. An idle beagle is a glutton for food and mischief!

Have you got what it takes to raise a beagle?

Macaroni, John F. Kennedy's Pony
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Macaroni, John F. Kennedy's Pony

The Kennedy family had quite a zoo while living at the White House, from dogs to hamsters to a lovable Shetland pony named Macaroni. Macaroni technically belonged to first daughter Caroline Kennedy; reportedly, the pony was a gift to Caroline from then-VP Lyndon Johnson. Is your child begging for a horse? A horse is a huge financial obligation; before taking the plunge, consider signing your child up for horseback riding lessons to determine if she really is passionate about horses and committed to learning and growing with the horse.

Fala, Franklin Roosevelt's Scottish Terrier
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Fala, Franklin Roosevelt's Scottish Terrier

Amongst presidential pets, the Scottish terrier is a popular breed. Years before Barney and Miss Beazley were even born, FDR's beloved Fala made his home at the White House. The name "Fala" is short for "Murray the Outlaw of Falahill", who was a 15th-century Scottish rebel. Unlike his namesake, Fala was very allegiant to his country's leader, accompanying the president on international diplomatic excursions and sleeping in a special chair at the foot of his bed. Indeed, Fala is even featured in two different statues alongside his master: one in Washington, D.C. and one in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

King Tut, Herbert Hoover's German Shepherd
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King Tut, Herbert Hoover's German Shepherd

Herbert Hoover is another president who may owe his election win to a dog. Before the 1928 election, autographed photographs of Hoover with King Tut, his German shepherd, were mailed to voters. The tactic was a success, making voters believe that Hoover was warm and friendly. German shepherds are often used as guard dogs, and King Tut was no exception: he was watchful of his family and was known to patrol the White House grounds. If you seek a loyal, protective pet, a German shepherd might be the right dog for you.

Learn more about the allegiant German shepherd

Rob Roy, Calvin Coolidge's Collie
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Rob Roy, Calvin Coolidge's Collie

Rob Roy, a collie with a fiercely protective streak, could have doubled as Secret Service. A 1928 article in the Reading Eagle titled "Coolidge Canoe Nearly Upsets When Rob Roy Snaps at Guide" describes the president and first dog's fishing adventure in Wisconsin. When the guide attempted to position Coolidge's arms correctly, the dog got worried. "From where Rob Roy was crouching," the article reads, "this looked like very suspicious business." Defending his master from trouble, he snapped at the guide, and "the canoe narrowly missed being upset." Crisis averted!

Jeff Davis, Ulysses S. Grant's Horse
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Jeff Davis, Ulysses S. Grant's Horse

This stereoscopic image depicts Jeff Davis, Grant's horse when the future president served as head of the Union Army. The black horse was a favorite of Grant and showed off his comical side. Does his name sound familiar? Jefferson Davis was the leader of the Confederacy. In a 1910 book, Colonel William H. Crook (a White House regular for over fifty years) recounts a visit then-President Lincoln paid to Grant. While riding the horse, Lincoln remarked, "Well, he may be Jeff Davis and a little too small for me, but he is a good horse." Well played, General Grant.

Read more of Colonel William H. Crook's accounts of his life with the presidents

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