Forget the country’s gone to the dogs. The dogs have gone to the country, the city, even the capital.
Partly it’s COVID. Loneliness. The need to see another face, even if it’s a Great Dane’s. People are newly buying, adopting or baby-sitting a pet. Shrinks say caring for a creature relieves stress. Of 45 presidents, only Polk and Trump were animal-less. And Truman gave his away.
Who knows why? After tolerating his daughter Margaret’s lousy singing career, what’s another bark?
When Fala accidentally got left in the Aleutian Islands, FDR blew taxpayers’ thousands sending ships to “Get back my little Scotty.” . . . When a Lab joined the Clintons’ cat they didn’t get along. Said Bill: “I did better with the Israelis and Palestinians than I’m doing with Socks and Buddy” . . . Tyler owned an Italian greyhound . . . Benjamin Harrison had a collie named Dash. Also a goat.
Daddy George Bush had three dogs. Millie, his spaniel, begat son President George’s dog, Spot . . . John Quincy Adams’ wife kept silkworms and for whothehellknowswhy spun their silk . . . Andrew Jackson’s gray parrot, Polly, swore and got pulled from his funeral for squawking profanity.
Hung on Briards, Jefferson’s female, Buzzy, started a breeding program. French working dogs that go to 100 pounds, they were bred to defend against wolves and poachers. How they did with senators and reporters, this I don’t know . . . Muscat’s Said bin Sultan gave Van Buren two tiger cubs. They did not stay long . . . Grits, Carter’s hound, snapped at White House visitors. He could smell a conservative.
Coolidge’s menagerie: 12 dogs, one bobcat, a goose, donkey, cat, two lion cubs, an antelope, a wallaby plus pygmy hippo, Billy. Coolidge was never a big speaker. Now we know why . . . The father of our country was also the father of 30 foxhounds. Possible boozer Washington named some Drunkard, Tipler, Sweet Lips and Tipsy . . . Nixon’s cocker spaniel, Checkers, became more popular than Nixon.
Parrots, poodles, ponies & more
Harding’s Airedale, Laddie Boy, had his own seat at cabinet meetings and in 1921 gave an “interview” to the Washington Post . . . Grant kept dogs and ponies . . . Franklin Pierce had two teacup Chins. They were his pets, not his face . . . Millard Fillmore? Ponies . . . Grover Cleveland had mockingbirds, poodle Hector and three dachshunds . . . Lincoln’s place was busy. A rabbit. A horse. Goats: Nanny and Nanko. Dogs: Fido and Jip. Cats: Tabby and Dixie. He said “Dixie’s smarter than my whole cabinet.” . . . Woodrow Wilson’s Airedale was Davie; the bull terrier answered to Bruce . . . McKinley’s Mexican parrot whistled “Yankee Doodle,” plus a kitten named for a Spanish ambassador. Imagine calling “Here kitty kitty, here Enrique Dupuy de Lome.”
To the dogs
Although biographers put other female creatures around Eisenhower, he also had a Weimaraner named Heidi . . . Reagan? Bouvier des Flandres, cavalier King Charles spaniel, golden retriever Victory, Peggy the Irish setter, Taca the Siberian husky, Fuzzy the Belgian sheepdog . . . John Quincy Adams’ gator was a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette who should’ve sprung for a shpritz of Dior’s Eau de Sauvage instead.
A chicken in every pot? With Hoover, it was a canary. And nearly a dozen dogs. Also an opossum . . . Benjamin Harrison? We spoke of his goat. Name was Whiskers. He had two opossums. Their names were Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection. He also had two alligators . . . Woodrow Wilson? A flock of sheep. Old Ike, the ram, supposedly chewed tobacco . . . James Buchanan, an eagle . . . And Taft was daft about his cow, Pauline.
Teddy Roosevelt? Black bear cub from West Virginia supporters. Also, a badger. Like, doesn’t everyone? Plus, guinea pigs christened Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans and Father O’Grady. Why, who knows . . . Obama? Portuguese water dogs . . . Rutherford B. Hayes christened a cat Piccolomini, for some reason, after some Italian general . . . And Biden? Two German shepherds. The one with the better hair may sit in for Mrs. Pelousey.