B is for Bears, Bulldog, Border Collie, Beagles, Briards, and Birds
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969), and Jimmy Carter (1977-1981).
President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark off on their mission to explore the frontier in 1804. They, in turn, sent him back 2 grizzly bear cubs – and he promptly decided they should go to the Peale Museum (in 1807). I guess while their cage was being readied at the museum they waited for 2 months in a cage on the WH lawn on display for everyone to see. They eventually went to the Peale, and grew and grew and decided they needed to be wild once more. The one of the bears escaped and was later shot dead in the kitchen. Sadly, both were eventually mounted and put in the museum.
President Theodore Roosevelt (we will see him repeatedly throughout the month!) was given a small black bear that he named Jonathon Edwards. The bear went to live at the Washington Zoo because he had a bad temperament and liked to bite and claw. (Let’s take you out of your natural environment to a completely alien place and see how you react!) (These are vintage representations)
First Lady Grace Coolidge (we’ll see the Coolidge’s a lot this month as well!) had a bulldog named Boston Beans or a Boston Bulldog named Beans – depending on the source you choose. Some sources say (Boston) Beans was a pet, but other sources say he was just passing through on his way to Northampton. (Representative photos!)
President Jimmy Carter’s daughter, Amy, was given a border collie by a former teacher. He was named Grits, in honor of his southern roots, of course. There were some behavioral problems with Grits and he didn’t get along with Amy’s cat (we’ll talk about him later in the month) so it was decided that Grits should go back to the teacher who gave him to Amy. (Where was Caesar Milano?)
President Lyndon B. Johnson was known for his beagles and he had plenty to go around. The most famous ones were Him and Her, a brother and sister duo that came to the WH with the Johnson’s. After their cover photo on Life magazine, their fame spread far and wide and the dogs began receiving fan mail. Some of it was hate mail toward the President because the Life article showed LBJ picking Him up by the ears and that really roused the dog lovers of America. LBJ had to issue an apology saying basically he was just having fun with the dog and thought he (the dog) enjoyed it. (Shall we pull you up by the ears and see how you like it?) Anyway, Him and Her died young (Him, run over by a car while chasing a squirrel and Her by swallowing a pebble) and eventually two new beagles moved in to the WH. J. Edgar Hoover gifted LBJ with a beagle which was named J. Edgar, or Edgar. There was also Freckles and Kim who was the offspring of Him who originally belonged to Luci Johnson. When Luci married and left the WH she left Freckles behind but took Kim.
This is my favorite photo because it shows dogs being dogs!
President Thomas Jefferson originally was said to have disliked dogs because they would attack his sheep. But in time he grew to like a particular breed, Briards. Being a farmer for most of his life, Mr. Jefferson probably saw the value in having an intelligent herding dog on the farm. Of all the Briards owned by our 3rd President, there is only one whose name has come down in history – Buzzy. There isn’t much known about him but he must have been a favorite since he is the only one who is remembered. (Representative photo)
Birds were a favorite pet at the WH throughout the years. Most of the birds will be written about specifically, but I wanted to give a shout out to President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) who had a pet bird of unknown type and President Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) who had a pair of “Japanese birds.” I didn’t know what was meant by Japanese birds so I chose a representative picture of a vintage postcard that looks sort of Japanese.
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