The first White House dog to receive regular newspaper coverage was Warren G. Harding’s dog Laddie Boy.
Pets also featured on presidential elections. Herbert Hoover got a Belgian shepherd dog, King Tut, during his campaign and pictures of him with his new dog were sent all across the United States.
In 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for his fourth term when rumors surfaced that his Scottish Terrier, Fala, had accidentally been left behind when visiting the Aleutian Islands. After allegedly sending back ships to rescue his dog, Roosevelt was ridiculed and accused of spending thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to retrieve his dog. At a speech following this Roosevelt said, “you can criticize me, my wife and my family, but you can’t criticize my little dog. He’s Scotch and all these allegations about spending all this money have just made his little soul furious.” What was later called the “Flag Speech” reportedly helped secure re-election for Roosevelt
Richard Nixon was accused of hiding a secret slush fund during his candidacy for vice president under Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. He gave a televised “Checkers speech” named after his cocker spaniel; denying he had a slush fund but admitted that, “there is one thing that I did get as a gift that I’m not going to give back.” The gift was a black and white cocker spaniel, Checkers, given to his daughters. Although Nixon had been in danger of being kicked off the ticket, following his speech he received an increase in support and Mamie Eisenhower reportedly recommended he stay because he was “such a warm person”.
On the other hand, many believe that President Lyndon B. Johnson’s image was damaged because of his pets. He was photographed picking his two Beagle dogs named Him and Her up by their ears. Much of the public was outraged and animal lovers spoke out against it. Others, however, did not understand the basis of the uproar and former President Harry S. Truman was even reported to have said, “What the hell are the critics complaining about; that’s how you handle hounds.” While it may not have hurt his presidency, this scandal shed a new light on the president’s image.
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton