If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog- President Harry Truman
Dogs in Politics Day, observed annually on September 23, is inspired by the anniversary of the infamous “Checkers” speech, by Richard Nixon in 1952. Nixon gave a speech defending his campaign spending following accusations of using funds for personal use. In the detailed speech, Nixon mentioned receiving a gift in the form of a furry black and white Cocker Spaniel, which was later, named “Checkers” by his young daughter. He detailed his heartwarming journey from a donor in Texas to the Nixon family in Washington. Over 60 million Americans watched this speech and it even boosted Nixon’s appeal, or shall we say Checkers boosted appeal?
But Nixon certainly wasn’t’ the first, nor will he be the last president to have a four-legged companion alongside him in the White House. In fact, according to First Pet by the Associated Press, the “number 400 is close to the many animals and other creatures that crept, crawled, plodded, padded, or hoofed their way into the history of the White House and the presidency.”
Obama has his Bo, W. had Barney. Bill had Buddy. George H.W. Bush had Millie. Ronnie had Rex. Gerald Ford had Liberty. LBJ had Yuki. That’s right, every president since Warren Harding (1921-1923), who had an Airedale named Laddie Boy, had at least one dog in the White House. Almost all of these loyal companions joined their high-profile owners for the full terms, and were even deemed the official first pet of the first family. Breeds have ranged from bulldogs, spaniels and terriers to retrievers, hounds and Portuguese water dogs…referring of course to the first pet of the forty fourth president Barack Obama: a gift to him and his family from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
It’s no doubt these canines lived lavish lives roaming the grounds of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, providing much needed stress relief, listening ears and joyful wagging tails to their owners when they needed it the most.