W is for Winks, Washington Post, Whoopie, Wolfhound and Weimaraner
John Tyler (1841-1845), William McKinley (1897-1901), Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961), and John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
Before Fala, President Franklin Roosevelt had another favorite dog named Winks. Winks was named for the black ring around his left eye and was a Llewellyn setter. He was a mischievous dog with a voracious appetite. The Pittsburgh Press reported on Feb 26, 1934 that Winks had discovered a table set for 18 with the breakfast meal of bacon and eggs ready to be eaten. At least that’s what Winks thought. He jumped on the table and went from plate to plate eating everything in sight. Roosevelt observed, “The only reason he didn’t drink the coffee was that it had not yet been poured.”
As a young puppy full of energy and no judgment Winks ran headlong into the iron fence that surrounded the WH and died of a concussion just months later in July, 1934. He was a candle that burned out at both ends. The family buried him at a pet cemetery in Silver Springs, Maryland.
President William McKinley had a Mexican Double Yellow-headed Parrot named Washington Post.
President Herbert Hoover had a schnauzer named Whoopie.
President John Tyler reportedly had 2 wolfhounds imported for his wife. I don’t know their names.
President Hoover had yet another dog, a Irish Wolfhound name Cragwood Padraie, or Patrick.
President John F. Kennedy had an Irish Wolfhound in his pack, too, named Wolf!
President Dwight D. Eisenhower has the (dis)honor of having the only dog to be actually banished from the WH. Dogs before Eisenhower’s that had proved trouble were sent away; but Heidi the Weimaraner is a different matter altogether. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Heidi was a beautiful blue-grey Weimaraner, a breed that was mostly unknown in the U.S. In fact, Heidi was mostly unknown by the public as being a WH dog even though she had full run of the building and its grounds for the time she was there. She was a gift to the Eisenhowers as a puppy in 1955. In the beginning First Lady Mamie Eisenhower didn’t like having a dog, but they eventually bonded. Heidi was a jumper and protector so she was always jumping up on people – especially photographers – who she perceived to be a threat to her family.
The color of her coat was described as being “mole-colored”, “taupe-grey” and even “ginger.” Heidi slept in a basket on the third floor and during the day she would nap in the President’s private office while he worked.
Now, back to why she was banished. Despite all the folks around the WH to look after her, Heidi still had accidents inside (it was obviously the humans who were at fault here, not the dog). The final straw (or pee or poo) was an accident on an extremely valuable rug. In the early 60’s the rug was worth close to $20,000 – that’s around $160,000 in 2013 dollars and who knows what it would be worth now in 2016 after adjusting for inflation. Anyway, off Heidi went to the Eisenhower’s Gettysburg farm to live. She must have been happy there because she eventually had a litter of 4 puppies.