A History of White House Pets (1945-1977)

Updated on July 11, 2019
MickeyN profile image

I've grown up with dogs my whole life, but they have all belonged to family and friends. My dream is to one day have a pup of my own.

1. Harry S. Truman 1945 - 1953

Feller arrived in a crate in December 1947.
Feller arrived in a crate in December 1947. | Source

President Truman came into office near the end of WWII and was immediately immersed in a number of controversies, including the setting off of the atomic bombs and his initiatives in the Cold War.

One controversy that is not well-known was his dislike of keeping pets. Although he is famously quoted as saying, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog," Truman upset dog lovers across the country when he gave away a Cocker Spaniel he had received as an anonymous gift. The rejected puppy, later known as "Feller, the unwanted dog," ended up on a farm in Ohio where he lived happily until old age.

2. Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953 - 1961

Heidi walks beside the President as he returns to the Executive Office Building after a press conference on March 11, 1959.
Heidi walks beside the President as he returns to the Executive Office Building after a press conference on March 11, 1959.

The Eisenhowers had two pets during their time in the White House: a parakeet and a Weimaraner named Heidi.

Heidi was a gift from Eisenhower's postmaster general, Arthur Summerfield. In a letter to Summerfield in 1958, the President affectionately described Heidi as, "an asset to life in the White House." He continues the letter by writing, "She cavorts on the South Lawn at a great rate, with such important projects as chasing squirrels and investigating what might be under bushes. She is beautiful and well-behaved (occasionally she tends toward stubbornness but is then immediately apologetic about it). And she is extremely affectionate and seemingly happy. I am constantly indebted to you both for giving her to me . . ."

Heidi lived in the White House for only a short time because her weak bladder often got her in trouble with the staff. After an accident on an extremely expensive White House rug, the President moved Heidi to his family farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where she later gave birth to two puppies.

3. John F. Kennedy 1961 - 1963

Caroline Kennedy’s pony, Macaroni.
Caroline Kennedy’s pony, Macaroni. | Source

Of the presidents on this list, John F. Kennedy had the largest number of pets and the most variety. The Kennedys kept 15 pets total, from dogs and cats to birds and ponies.

The above photo of the president's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, on her pony inspired the Neil Diamond song, "Sweet Caroline."

4. Lyndon B. Johnson 1963 - 1969

Him and Her walking with LBJ.
Him and Her walking with LBJ. | Source

There was no a question that LBJ loved dogs. In fact, he loved them so much, he had the White House doghouse redesigned and enlarged to accommodate a pair of beagles, a collie, and a mixed breed named Yuki.

His pair of beagles, named Him and Her, were celebrity dogs. They were often spotted napping in the Oval Office, riding along the president in his car, and even swimming in the White House pool.

5. Richard Nixon 1969 - 1974

Vicky with the president before his resignation.
Vicky with the president before his resignation.

Despite all the controversy and the mistakes he made, Nixon, at the end of the day, was a human with weaknesses and strengths like the rest of us. One of his lesser-known—and less controversial—weaknesses was his love for dogs.

While serving as Vice President, his Cocker Spaniel Checkers played a role in winning him a bid for Vice President. In a televised speech in which he defended his alleged misuse of $18,000 of campaign funds, he mentioned that no matter what happens with the funds, his two daughters would be allowed to keep a campaign gift: a black-and-white puppy named Checkers. This charmed and captivated many Americans, and the speech was the first time a politician used T.V. to persuade the people.

Of course, Nixon ran into more controversy later in his own presidency. Fortunately for him, his loyal companion, Vicky, was by his side, lending support to a then troubled Nixon.

6. Gerald Ford 1974-1977

The Fords were partial to Golden Retrievers, and their beloved Liberty was acquired from a reputable breeder in Missouri. Liberty was later bred with a champion golden retriever and gave birth to 9 pups. Mr. and Mrs. Ford kept one and named it Misty. The others were given to close friends, and one went to the Leader Dog School for the Blind.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)