Do we love them more than their high-powered owners? Have dogs actually helped to get some of our presidents elected? Most of us seem to enjoy the antics of the White House canines more than we do their presidential owners. For great reading on White House canines, the book, “Dog Days at the White House: The Outrageous Memoirs of the Presidential Kennel Keeper” by Traphes Bryant and Frances Spatz Leighton is a must-read.
President Herbert Hoover had his police dog, King Tut as a White House pet. King Tut was very instrumental in getting Herbert Hoover elected. Many campaign photographs depicted him with his dog. This made him appear friendly and reachable to the American public. All of us are prone to voting for those “just like us”. Posing and traveling with King Tut gave Herbert Hoover an edge over all of the other candidates. It made him appear real and down to earth. The dog was pretty cute, too.
King Tut was granted the full run of the White House. He was President Hoover’s constant companion. It is said that once while out on a walk, King Tut went to visit with a member of the White House staff and refused to go to President Hoover when he whistled for him. Allegedly, this resulted in an order being issued that White House staff were forbidden to play with the dog.
President Lyndon B. Johnson had several dogs in the White House. His favorite dog, Yuki, was a mutt. The president and Yuki were often found singing together. Yuki and President Johnson were inseparable. They traveled together and Yuki was constantly by his side. This little mutt was the darling of everyone. Part of Yuki’s appeal was that he was not a purebred dog. This endeared him to everyone as it showed that even the most common of beings can make it to the White House.
Yuki was actually found by the President’s daughter at a gas station in 1966. The name Yuki stems from the Japanese word yukimas, which means snow. After Lyndon B Johnson’s term was over and he left the White House, Yuki rode with former President Johnson back to his ranch on Air Force One. When Lyndon B Johnson died in 1979, Yuki went to live with the one who rescued him, Luci Johnson Nugent, President Johnson’s daughter.
Liberty was the Irish Setter belonging to President Gerald Ford. Loved by all, she was the darling of the White House. Liberty delivered a litter of beautiful puppies during her stay in the Nation’s Capitol.
One of the best anecdotes about President Ford and Liberty is when the White House Kennel Keeper was off duty. The President happily volunteered to take care of Liberty for the evening. That night, just like every night, the Presidential Quarters of the White House are secured. Unfortunately for President Ford, he neglected to inform the Secret Service that he was taking Liberty for her final walk of the evening. The President and Liberty were unable to gain access to the White House until security was informed.
These White House superstars give our political leaders a human quality. Who can dislike a person that loves dogs and shows compassion for their canine friends? From King Tut to Yuki the rescue, to Liberty (an appropriately named dog for the White House), many times these pups steal the show.
By Tamara Sevigny