Donald Trump’s march to the presidency has been unorthodox, with the billionaire tossing many political traditions aside.
Here’s another tradition that could fall by the wayside: the president-elect does not own a pet.
If one counts ponies — and Millard Fillmore owned two, named Mason and Dixon — every president except James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson has owned a pet for at least part of his term. Even William Henry Harrison, who served just 31 days before dying in 1841, owned pets: a billy goat and a Durham cow named Sukey.
Martin Van Buren owned a pair of tiger cubs, while his predecessor, Andrew Jackson, owned several horses and a parrot named Poll that was taught to swear. Alligators spent two terms in the White House: in a bathtub near the East Room during John Quincy Adams’ time in office, and as pets of Herbert Hoover’s son, Allan, who owned two of the reptiles.
James Buchanan took the country’s national bird seriously, as he kept two bald eagles at the White House. Calvin Coolidge might have been known as “Silent Cal,” but the White House was noisy during his terms, with 13 dogs, three canaries, two cats, two raccoons, a thrush, a goose and a donkey. Oh yes, and Smoky the bobcat, a pygmy hippo named Billy, a wallaby and a black bear.
By the way, every year, Sept. 23 is designated National Dogs in Politics Day. That was the day in 1944 that Franklin D. Roosevelt mentioned Fala, his Scottish terrier, during a speech.
“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,” Roosevelt told the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America. “Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family doesn't resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him — at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars — his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since.”
The White House won’t be the same if Trump doesn’t bring a pet to Washington.
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