Statistics show that one of three American households have a dog but if your house is The White House, that ratio increases dramatically. More than half of our presidents have enjoyed the companionship of a dog.
George Washington turns out not only was a founding father but a also breeder of hunting dogs. He bred his own black and tan dogs with the French Fox Hound to create a new breed: The American Foxhound.
Abe Lincoln adored his dog Fido. A Labrador-hound mix, Fido was rattled by commotion and loud noises. Lincoln feared the pup would not cotton to life in Washington, DC. He found a family in Springfield to care for his dog and Lincoln helped by picking up the tab for Fido’s care. Ironically, just days after the President was shot, a drunken man killed Fido. Details are murky.
Our 33rd president, Harry S. Truman coined the famous phrase, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” I’d like to say that Truman’s long life could be attributed to his love of dogs, but at least two of his pups were re-homed, presumably because they were “inconvenient”.
In addition to dogs, goats, ponies, raccoon, mini-hippos and birds at one time have called the White House home.
Many thanks to the Smithsonian Institute and the National Archives for these digital images.