Red elephant? Or blue donkey? Who could choose between two animals? We can’t. So on Election Day 2012, we’re leaving electoral votes and margin of error reporting to CNN. Instead, we chatted with Dallas-native and White House style expert, Jennifer Pickens. Fresh from the success of her first book, Christmas at the the White House, she just published her second book, Pets and the White House. Through years of research, Jennifer found over 200 insightful photos (most have never been published before) of The First Families and their four-legged companions. Jennifer’s story gives unexpectedly endearing glimpses into daily life at The White House. Scroll down to see some of our favorite images from the book and Jennifer’s predictions for the next First Pet.
Most unusual pet in residence: Grace Coolidge (above) cuddles with her pet raccoon. The Coolidges kept their raccoons, Rebecca and Ruben, on leashes and would often walk them. The range of vet products and supplies that were required to safely keep these pets were astounding.
Best Stress Reliever: October 24, 1944, FDR (above) takes time away from World War II strategizing and negotiations to enjoy a ride in his convertible with his Scottish Terrier, Fala.
Only in America: LBJ kicks back with his grandson Lyndon Nugent and his beloved mutt Yuki (above). LBJ rescued Yuki from a gas station in his hometown, Johnson City, Texas. Despite having several other dogs including a pair of beagles named His and Hers, Yuki was LBJ’s favorite. Lyndon Nugent said, “LBJ and Yuki shared a significant bond that personified the American spirit: only in America could a poor boy from Johnson City end up in the White House.”
Even Mr. President cleans up after his dog: President Ford and his family (above) pose with the puppies from their beloved Golden Retriever, Liberty. Renown for treating everyone with equal dignity and respect, President Ford once stopped a Navy steward from after Liberty soiled the Oval Office carpet stating, “I’ll do that. No man should have to clean up after another man’s dog.”
Best excuse to get a hug: Even though there are steps right there, President Reagan insists on helping Nancy dismount her horse (above) after a day of riding at Camp David.
The most pedigreed of all: Millie and Barbara Bush (above) visit together before a State Dinner. Executive White House pastry chef, Roland Mesnier, says, “Millie was the only truly presidential dog. She was presidential to the core.” When Mrs. Bush sat down, so would Millie. When Mrs. Bush got up, Millie would follow. And, Mesnier claims, “She never barked!”
Best walk to work: George Bush’s canine companions, Barney and Mrs. Beazley (Scottish terriers) see the President off to the Oval Office in 2008.
Ready for lift-off: Bo Obama (above), a Portuguese Water dog chosen by the Obamas for being hypoallergenic, poses for a portrait with Air Force One in the background.
Jennifer Election 2012 Pet Predictions: If Romney wins, Jennifer thinks a sporting dog will run the White House. Mitt and Anne have had Irish Setters in the past. If Obama stays in office, life for Bo will stay status quo. Michelle Obama has already said, “Bo does not need a friend.”
What’s your favorite White House pet?