First Pets Slideshow

by Mark Hughes

Barack Obama, Malia and Sasha Obama's dad, informed his daughters—and millions of other people who were watching his victory speech the night he was elected president of the United States—that a four-legged companion would be joining them when they moved into their new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

"You've earned the new puppy that is coming with us to the White House," he said. Throughout history, a broad range of creatures, from conventional pets to exotic wild animals, have called the White House home. Take a look at the pets of past presidents and their families; dates in parenthesis indicate term in office.

George Washington (1789–1797)
Exotic pets were a status symbol in the 18th century. Martha Washington had a parrot named Polly that President Washington is said to have hated due in part to the bird's penchant for laughing, sometimes at him.
Photo courtesy of José Reynaldo
John Quincy Adams (1825–1829)
John Quincy Adams
The Marquis de Lafayette gave President John Quincy Adams an alligator in 1826. It resided in a bathroom in the East Room where Adams purportedly enjoyed using the alligator to startle guests.
Photo courtesy of Matthew Field
Benjamin Harrison (1889–1893)
Benjamin Harrison
Old Whiskers, the Harrison family's pet goat, often pulled the children around the White House lawn in a cart.
Photo courtesy of
Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909)
Theodore Roosevelt
Pictured is President Roosevelt's son and namesake, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., with his blue macaw named Eli Yale. In addition to Eli Yale, the Roosevelts had a menagerie that included bears, dogs, kangaroos, a flying squirrel, a lion, a zebra, and more.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
William Taft (1909–1913)
William Taft
The Tafts brought their beloved dairy cow, Pauline Wayne, with them to Washington, D.C. Here she is grazing in front of what is now called the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Pauline Wayne was the last cow to live at the White House.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Warren Harding (1921–1923)
Warren Harding
President Harding's Airedale terrier, Laddie Boy, posing in front of his birthday cake. Laddie Boy had his own hand carved chair to sit in during cabinet meetings.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)
Calvin Coolidge
First Lady Grace Coolidge with her pet raccoon, Rebecca. The Coolidges also had several dogs, cats, canaries, a donkey, a bobcat, a thrush, a pygmy hippopotamus, and some lion cubs.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Herbert Hoover (1929–1933)
Herbert Hoover
President Hoover's two dogs: Whoopie, a schnauzer (left); and Eaglehurst Gilette, a setter (right).
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Franklin Roosevelt (1933–1945)
Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, or Fala, was a Scottish Terrier and the favorite pet of President Roosevelt. This image shows the statue of Fala at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Photo courtesy of Carol Highsmith
Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961)
Dwight Eisenhower
President Eisenhower with his dog Heidi, a Weimaraner. Eisenhower said of Heidi, "[she] 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."
John Kennedy (1961–1963)
John Kennedy
President Kennedy, Caroline, and John, Jr. admiring their pony, Macaroni, who was free to roam the White House grounds.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Lyndon Johnson (1963–1969)
Lyndon Johnson
President Johnson "singing" with his dog, Yuki. A mixed breed dog, Yuki was found at a gas station in Texas on Thanksgiving Day in 1966 by Luci, President Johnson's daughter. "Yuki" means "snow" in Japanese.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Richard Nixon (1969–1974)
Richard Nixon
Keeping watch are Nixon's three dogs: Pasha (a Yorkshire terrier), Vicky (a poodle), and King Timahoe (an Irish setter).
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Gerald Ford (1974–1977)
Gerald Ford
President Ford at the Camp David pool with his dog Liberty, a Golden retriever.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Ronald Reagan (1981–1989)
Ronald Reagan
Rushing to greet the Reagans is Rex, their Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Rex was a gift from columnist William F. Buckley, Jr.
Photo courtesy of
George H.W. Bush (1989–1993)
H.W. Bush
President Bush with his dog Millie, a Springer spaniel, and her six puppies. One of these puppies is Spot who returned to the White House with George W. Bush in 2001.
Photo courtesy of
Bill Clinton (1993–2001)
Socks the Cat in the White House press room
President Clinton's cat, Socks, about to give a press conference. Socks was not happy when the Clintons got a Labrador retriever, named Buddy, in 1997. President Clinton said of the two, "I did better with the Arabs, the Palestinians and Israelis, than I have done with Socks and Buddy."
George W. Bush (2001–2009)
President George W. Bush's trio of pets on Halloween: India, a cat; and two Scottish Terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley.
Photo courtesy of
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