No one really knows if President Harry Truman said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog!" but it seems all presidents have agreed with the basic premise and have surrounded themselves with canines while in office.
In fact, it was George Washington who first brought dogs along with him during his term of office so that he could continue his passion for fox hunting. He had many hounds with colorful names such as Mopsey, Taster, Cleo, Tipler, Lady Rover, Sweet Lips, Vulcan, Searcher, Drunkard, and Forester. Another dog fact: George Washington was an avid fox hunter and he is credited with developing the American foxhound breed. Here's a rundown of some other well-known "First Dogs" who pawed their way into history.
Calvin Coolidge was a huge animal-lover who brought a menagerie of cats, dogs, and other animals to the White House. His favorites, though, were probably his two white collies: Rob Roy and Prudence Prim. Today, there is an oil portrait of his wife Grace Coolidge with Rob Roy hanging in the Red Room of the White House.
Theodore Roosevelt was another big dog-lover, but he gravitated to more rough-and-ready breeds such as his Chesapeake Bay retriever, Sailor Boy; his spaniel, Manchu; his terrier, Jack; and his cherished pit bull, Pete.
During Franklin Roosevelt's four terms in office, he maintained a mixed pack of dogs including his most famous dog, Fala, his Scottish terrier. He also owned another Scottie named Meggie, a German shepherd named Major, an English sheepdog named Tiny, a Llewellin setter named Winks, a mastiff named Blaze, and a Great Dane appropriately named President.
Richard Nixon's little black-and-white cocker spaniel, Checkers, became famous when Nixon refused to give him up when accused of financial improprieties as Vice President. The now infamous "Checkers Speech" turned Nixon's fortunes and convinced the American public to allow him to remain on the Presidential ticket in 1952.
John F. Kennedy was a huge dog-lover who celebrated his Celtic roots with an Irish cocker spaniel named Shannon, a Welsh terrier named Charlie, and several other Terriers named White Tips, Blackie, and Streaker. He also owned a Russian wolfhound named Wolf. His most famous dog, Pushinka, was a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Pushinka was a mongrel puppy that had been born to Srelka, one of the Soviet space dogs. Eventually, Pushinka and Charlie the Welsh terrier produced a litter of four puppies that Kennedy affectionately called pupniks.
In the 1980s, George H.W. Bush introduced his English springer spaniel Millie to the world. A children's book supposedly written by Millie about life in the White House sold more copies than the President's own biography.
During his presidential terms, Bill Clinton often played on the White House lawn with his chocolate Labrador retriever Buddy, and George W. Bush would often be upstaged by his Scottish terriers Barney and Miss Beazley.
The White House is currently occupied by Barack Obama's Portugese water dog, Bo. He was a gift to the President from the late Senator Ted Kennedy who was frequently seen in the halls of Congress accompanied by his dogs Splash, Sunny, and Cappy.