Dogs in the White House: The People's Favorite Presidential Dogs
President's Day gives Americans the chance to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of our past leaders. While presidents and their politics might not be everyone's cup of tea, there’s always one White House resident that’s undoubtedly unifying: the presidential pup!
Famous dogs in the Oval Office
Even the most enthusiastic dog lover might feel surprised to see this list of presidents' dogs from the Presidential Pet Museum and learn that all but three US presidents kept dogs during their terms, and many first families kept multiple pets.
That makes it tough to single out just a few presidential dogs to highlight. Still, most historians will agree that these White House dogs gained the most fame.
Pushinka: JFK's dog
This mixed-breed dog's name means “fluffy” in Russian, which is fitting since Pushinka was gifted to President John F. Kennedy by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Many Americans feared the dog was somehow wiretapped and would be used to spy on the president, but she quickly won over the American people.
Pushinka isn’t the only famous dog in her family tree! She is the daughter of Strelka, one of the first Russian dogs in space. Strelka orbited the planet aboard Sputnik 5 in 1960.
Fala: FDR's dog
Like JFK, FDR also kept other dogs in the White House, but none of them gained Fala's fame. Some reports say that this black Scottish terrier received more fan mail than the president and grew so popular that he earned starring roles in two movies.
When FDR ran for his unprecedented fourth term, he referred to this famous dog in a speech. Some historians believe that reference to Fala gave Roosevelt an edge in his successful bid.
Fala was so beloved that he has been forever immortalized as part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C.
Millie: George Bush's dog
This English springer spaniel “wrote” a book titled Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush which made it onto the New York Times bestseller list in 1992. The book describes the day in the life of a presidential pup. Proceeds from the book went to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Millie kept her presidential line going. She gave birth to two other dogs destined to live in the White House. The first was Ranger, who also lived with President Bush. The second was Spot, who lived in the White House while George W. Bush was president.
Today, a 15-acre dog park in Houston, Texas bears Millie's name.
Rob Roy: Calvin Coolidge's dog
This white collie shared the White House with 23 other Coolidge family pets, including a pet raccoon. Originally, he was named Oshkosh, until Grace Coolidge changed it to Rob Roy, a reference to a popular prohibition-era cocktail consisting of whiskey and vermouth.
Rob Roy got the distinction of being the first dog included in an official portrait. He’s also prominently shown in First Lady Grace Coolidge’s official White house portrait. The painting still hangs in the China Room in the White House.
Enrichment fit for a first dog
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