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Pick a Favorite Presidential Pet? There Are Way Too Many

May 12, 2019

By Sally Cragin

Dear Pet Talk: Which president do you think had the best pet? By best I mean most lovable. -- Trixie, fourth grade, Fitchburg.

DEAR TRIXIE: This is a fascinating subject and one that dates back to the founding of the country.

George Washington had pets -- albeit “working animals.” His horses included Samson, Steady, Leonidas, Traveller, Magnolia and other stallions. His horses, Nelson and Blueskin, were used by Washington during the American Revolution. His hounds were named Mopsey, Taster, Cloe, Forester, Captain, Lady Rover, Vulcan, Sweet Lips, Searcher, and three were named after states of inebriation: Tipsy, Tipler and Drunkard.

His successor, John Adams, also had dogs and horses, but the country’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, was gifted a pair of grizzly-bear cubs, which he later donated to Peale’s Museum in Philadelphia. Thus was the pattern of Presidential Pet put into place: some domestic, some wild.

President John Quincy Adams had a very famous alligator, given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette. His wife, Lucia, kept silkworms.

Other wild animals that were “first pets” include tiger cubs (Martin Van Buren), bald eagles (James Buchanan), raccoons and a bobcat (Calvin Coolidge).

The winner for “most pets” would have to be President Teddy Roosevelt, whose menagerie was famous and included horses, dogs, snakes, birds, rodents, a lion, hyena, a wildcat, a coyote, five bears, two parrots, a zebra, barn owl, lizard, roosters, a hen, pigs and a raccoon.

As for your question, Trixie, I couldn’t possibly choose between all of these animals, which are enormously lovable. But I would urge you and other readers to explore the wonderful world of presidential pets at this site: Presidentialpetmuseum.com .

Sally Cragin is the director of Be PAWSitive: Therapy Pets and Community Education. Send questions to sallycragin@verizon.net or visit Be PAWSitive on Facebook. They visit residential-care facilities, after-school programs and other facilities where a therapy pet could provide some comfort and joy.