Poodle and Alligator: The Pets of Presidents

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Being the pet of a U.S. president is a luxurious life: Unlimited access to one of the nation's most exclusive addresses, a culinary staff, attention from the press, travel opportunities - and fans. 

    But let's be honest: Those First Family felines and canines do something for us, too. No matter how poisonous politics can get, everyone can rally behind a pet.

    Even Richard Nixon understood that. And Harry S. Truman once famously said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

    So, in honor of President's Day, we're compiling our completely subjective list of some of our favorite White House companion animals.

    (Did we leave any off? Comment below.)

    1) Socks Clinton. One of the most remembered White House pets, Socks was the subject of children’s books and was featured in an episode of Murphy Brown, the ultimate '90s Washington-TV cameo.

    2) The presidential poodle, Vicky Nixon. Richard Nixon had a French Poodle named Vicky - though his better remembered dog was Checkers. When then-Senator Richard Nixon was running for president in 1952, he referenced his puppy in a televised address called the "Checkers Speech" - and public opinion of Nixon changed almost overnight.

    3) Grits Carter. Georgia farmer Jimmy Carter had a dog named Grits. Of course.

    4) India "Willie" Bush. Possibly overshadowed by First Dog Barney, who famously wore a camera for the BarneyCam videos, India was a First Pet in her own right, named after a Texas Ranger outfielder and keeping the dogs in their place. India died in the White House, leading to a presidential press release noting the family's sadness at her passing.

    5) Macho presidential pets. Herbert Hoover owned two alligators, which  were sometimes seen wandering outside the White House. Martin Van Buren received two tiger cubs as a gift while president - reportedly, Congress made Van Buren give the cubs to a zoo.

    Special extra: Bo Obama. Bo the Portuguese water dog is adored by millions. He's featured on Christmas cards, catches rides in Air Force One, and photo-bombs journalists as they try to get live shots of the White House. (our cameras caught him on a stroll while the family attended President Obama's second inauguration).