For Ulysses S. Grant, horses were more than just a means of transportation. He had a special affection and ability to relate to horses. Cincinnati, Jeff Davis and Egypt, the horses he rode during the Civil War, all lived to enter the White House stables when Grant became president in 1869.
Albert Hawkins, who was in charge of the stables, stated that Jeff Davis was such a kicker and biter that the stable hands were afraid to go near him. President Grant, however, was able to handle the horse with ease. Jeff would throw back his ears and move about restlessly until Grant came up and patted him.
Jesse Root Grant, Grant's youngest son, describes a ride he took with his father when Grant was president: "Father was driving a fast horse and we were going at a good clip, when a butcher's delivery wagon drew up and passed us. A short distance it stopped to make a delivery. Then again it caught up with us and despite all father's effort, it passed us a second time. By now father had read the owner's name on the wagon and the following day he bought that horse. The animal became a great favorite and father named him Butcher Boy." (In the Days of My Father, by Jesse Root Grant).
In fact, Grant is the only president to have gotten a speeding ticket while riding in a horse and buggy. The policeman who stopped him did not realize that it was the president and apologized when he did. The president told him that it was okay and that the policeman was only doing his job.
According to The White House Historical Association, Theodore Roosevelt and his family were famous pet lovers who kept a menagerie of kangaroo rats, snakes, dogs, birds, ponies, and other small animals. The president preferred what he called “Heinz pickle” dogs from multiple bloodlines. One of his favorites was Skip, a short-legged Black and Tan mongrel terrier, brought home from a Colorado bear hunt. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1999 as a Teddy Roosevelt terrier.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s black Scottish terrier, Fala, was his constant companion, accompanying the president to secret meetings or publicized war conferences. Fala was the subject of two MGM films. The dog became so recognizable that his appearance on a train platform revealed the president was nearby and became a security concern.
Republicans charged that he had accidentally left Fala behind on the Aleutian Islands while on tour there and had sent a Navy Destroyer to retrieve him at an exorbitant cost to the taxpayers. Roosevelt retorted, “These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. [laughter] Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family doesn't resent attacks — but Fala does resent them.”
As a good will gesture toward the United States, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave Mrs. Kennedy a dog named Pushinka, “fluffy” in Russian. She was the daughter of Strelka, the first Russian dog in space. Some Americans were suspicious of the gift and believed the dog might be wearing a listening device. Eventually, Pushinka woneverybody over, especially Charlie, the Kennedy’s Welsh terrier, who became the father of her “pupniks.”
The beagles of Lyndon B. Johnson gained their fame from the “great ear lift,” an incident when the president playfully lifted the dogs from their ears in front of news cameras in the Rose Garden. He did not lift them from the ground to dangle, but the spectacle sparked outraged protests from dog-lovers.
Rebecca was Coolidge’s pet raccoon. She was originally sent to be part of the Coolidge’s Thanksgiving dinner but Mrs.Coolidge thought that the raccoon was quite good looking and Rebecca was kept a pet. The Coolidges thought that she was lonely and got a raccoon friend named Reuben, but he ran away.