Animals have long been a major part of life at the White House.
In 1863, 10-year-old Tad Lincoln befriended a turkey sent to the White House for a holiday feast. He named the bird Jack and treated him as a pet, according to the White House Historical Association.
As Christmas Day approached, Tad realized it would soon be time to prepare the turkey for Christmas dinner. The young boy burst into the Cabinet meeting in tears and pleaded with his father to pardon the bird from the “executioner.” Recent presidential speeches cite this historic anecdote as the basis for the modern-day turkey pardoning photo-op at Thanksgiving.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s dog, Fala, became a movie star in 1943 when MGM made a short-subject film relating the World War II home-front story from the canine’s perspective. The studio made a second installment in 1946 after his master’s death that included Fala’s tour of Hyde Park, the Roosevelt family estate and future site of a presidential library.