White House Pets & Animals

I can imagine how hard it is to be the son or daughter of the President and First Lady of the United States and move into the White House. But making this move and leaving behind your beloved pet would be pretty traumatic!  Good thing presidential children have not had to do this! From the beginning the White House has been pretty open to animals. Perhaps this is because our early presidents were farmers and they had depended on and cared for animals.  Many early presidents brought their own animals or pets to the White House.  So animals and pets have always been welcomed at the White House.


Here’s a look at some of the most interesting White House pets:
(Many of the First Families have MANY pets. The ones below are just a few of them.)

  • President John Adams --- Two mixed breed dogs and several horses
  • President Thomas Jefferson --- Dick, a mockingbird that could imitate cats and dogs
  • President Andrew Jackson – Horse named Sam Patch and Poll, a parrot that he 
  • taught to swear
  • President Zackary Taylor --- Old Whitey, his campaign horse who gave rides to kids 
  • and routinely grazed the White House lawn and Apollo, a former circus pony
  • President Benjamin Harrison --- Goat named Whiskers
  • Willie, Robert Todd and Tad Lincoln  --- Ponies, Rabbits, turkeys, horses, and two goats named Nanny and Nanko
Tad Lincoln between 1860–1865   Library of Congress

Tad Lincoln between 1860–1865   Library of Congress

  • President James Buchanan --- Two bald eagles
  • Archie Roosevelt – Pony named Algonquin
Archie Roosevelt, June 17, 1902 Library of Congress.

Archie Roosevelt, June 17, 1902 Library of Congress.

  • Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. --- Macaw named Eli Yale
  • Alice Roosevelt --- Garter snake named Emily Spinach

(Also in the Theodore Roosevelt White House were a badger, a bear, a raccoon, cats, dogs, a kangaroo rat, guinea pigs, and more snakes,

  • Caroline Kennedy --- Pony named Macaroni
  • Susan Ford --- Siamese cat named Shan
  • Amy Carter --- Cat named Misty Malarky Ying Yang
  • First Lady, Grace Coolidge --- A raccoon named Rebecca and a collie named Rob Roy
  • President Franklin Roosevelt --- Many dogs but his favorite was thought to be Fala
Fala being interviewed 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library  

Fala being interviewed 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library  

  • President Bill Clinton --- Cat named Socks
  • President Gerald Ford --- Dog named Liberty
  • President Lyndon Johnson --- Dogs named Yuki and Him and Her
  • President Ronald Reagan --- Gold fish sent to him via the mail from a ten-
  • year-old boy
  • First Lady Nancy Reagan  --- King Charles spaniel named Rex
  • President George HW Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush --- Springer spaniel named
  • Millie
  • George W Bush --- English springer spaniel named Spot

One unusual pet was once an actual guest in the White House. The Marquis de Lafayette, the Frenchman who helped us out so much during the Revolutionary War, brought his pet alligator with him to the White House for a visit with his friend, President John Quincy Adams. And where did this alligator stay? In the East Room --- temporarily!

In 2002 First Lady Laura Bush celebrated the importance of pets to family life at the White House wen she used the holiday decorations theme, All Creatures Great and Small. With this she honored all the dogs, cats, goats, ponies, turkeys, raccoons and alligators that have lived in the White House. 


More research --- Find out who walks the “First Pets” that live in the White House?

Additional Resources 

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/roosevelt/aa_roosevelt_pets_1.html

http://everythinglincoln.com/articles/pets.html

https://www.whitehousehistory.org/white-house-pets

http://www.presidentialpetmuseum.com/whitehousepets-3/

Karr, Kathleen. It Happened In the White House. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.