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The White House has served as a home for forty-five presidents and forty-four families. It has born witness to countless childhoods, holidays, and historic events. The White House has seen it all including paws, claws, hooves, and toes belonging to countless Presidential animals. Here are some of America’s most interesting First Pets.
1) Laddie Boy, the dog – President Warren Harding
The first White House animal to be in the media spotlight was President Warren Harding’s dog, Laddie Boy. Laddie Boy was an Airedale terrier who soaked up all of the Presidential attention. His hobbies included fetching rogue golf balls and listening in on Cabinet meetings from his hand carved chair. Laddie Boy was also a renowned host as he had several birthday parties complete with biscuit cakes and other blue blooded canines.
2) Billy, the pigmy hippopotamus – President Calvin Coolidge
President Calvin Coolidge had quite the menagerie. He had over twenty animals including dogs, birds, and even lions and a wombat. Possibly one of the most unique Coolidge animals was Billy, the pigmy hippopotamus. Billy was given to President Coolidge as a gift from American tire tycoon, Harvey Firestone. Due to Billy’s popularity and value he traveled to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and spent his days in the National Zoo of DC, often visited by President Coolidge. While there are no documented pictures of Billy, he is immortalized in his many offspring of American born Pygmy Hippos.
3) President Teddy Roosevelt’s collection of animals
Speaking of Teddy Roosevelt, there was no other president with as many animals as the twenty-sixth President. There was Eli Yale the macaw, Jonathan the rat, Maude the pig, and Bill the Hyena (who was lived at the Bronx zoo). However, there was no animal quite as significant as his horse, Bleistein. Bleistein may not have been as exotic as Bill, he was a constant companion to the Presdient as they often rode through Rock Creek Park. President Roosevelt was an avid equestrian all throughout his life, and despite his poor health was quite the horseman. When he moved to DC, he brought Bleistein with him to keep in shape.
4) Billie and Debby, the hamsters – President John F. Kennedy
While most of the First animals were loving and devoted to their masters, the Kennedy’s possessed two fairly violent creatures. Billie and Debby were Caroline Kennedy’s hamsters and moved into the White House in 1961. They were precocious little animals and proceeded to escape during their first night, only to be caught by JFK under his bed. They had a littler of hamsters, but unfortunately one drowned in the bathtub. It was all downhill from there as Billie ate the rest of the pups, while Debbie then ate Billie.
5) Him and Her, the dogs – President Lyndon B. Johnson
Excluding Laddie Boy and his opulent front row seat to Cabinet meetings, President Lyndon Johnson’s beagles Him and Her were some of the most spoiled dogs to ever set paw in the white house. LBJ loved his dogs so much, that he redesigned the White House doghouse and enlarged it to the point where the media criticized him for extremity. Him and Her were devoted to President Johnson and spent their days napping in the Oval office or swimming in the White House Pool.
6) Marlon, the Rabbit – Vice President Mike Pence