A Trump White House Without A Pet Would Break A Long, Weird History


Though it’s a move that could land any PR-minded official in the doghouse, there’s a chance the Trump White House might take a paws on presidential pets.

So far as anyone knows, the Trump family doesn’t have a history of keeping animals around the house (not even a pet rock, but we’ve found a perfect Trump-appropriate option), and there isn’t any indication ― at least, not yet ― one will frolic down the halls of power in D.C. 

A White House without a four-legged friend would be a rarity, says Dave Baker, the co-owner of the Presidential Pet Museum, a donation-based institution not affiliated with the White House or the federal government.

“There are only a few administrations that didn’t feature any pets at the White House,” Baker told The Huffington Post. “Martin Van Buren had a couple of tiger cubs that got sent to the zoo. Other than that, he didn’t have dogs or cats or anything like that.”

Andrew Johnson also lacked a formal furry companion, though he did make a habit of feeding mice he encountered in the White House, which surely didn’t endear him to many White House staffers.

And the third pet-less White House isn’t a clear-cut case ― or at least the argument is a bit (ahem) more hairy: While Harry Truman apparently hated dogs, people nevertheless kept giving him (and his daughter) puppies. “I think you could argue that his was a pet-less administration,” says Baker, “though technically the puppies stayed there for a bit.”

Thomas D. McAvoy via Getty Images

A puppy President Truman probably hated explores the White House Lawn during his administration. The puppy was named Feller.

Should Trump opt to really stick his neck out there and, say, bring in a giraffe instead of a more standard animal companion, he’d actually be in pretty good company. The list of past pets includes everything from bear and tiger cubs to alligators, goats and raccoons.

Teddy Roosevelt’s family alone had a one-legged rooster, a garter snake named Emily Spinach (his daughter Alice carried it around with her), and a pet badger with an admittedly short temper but a “fundamentally friendly” disposition. (”He bites legs sometimes,” Teddy’s son Archie explained, “but he never bites faces.”)

Are there limits in place on what a president can have as a pet now, in more modern times? “Not that I’m aware of,” Baker said. “I believe President-elect Trump could move a giraffe into the Roosevelt Room if that’s what he wanted to do.”

But Baker said he’d be surprised if a dog doesn’t end up in a Trump White House one way or another, though probably not by burrowing under the fence. (Then again, it may be just as well, given Trump wants to stop federal oversight of dog food safety.)

“I fully anticipate there will be a dog running around and wagging his tail, jumping up onto the president and giving him the joy that only a pet dog can,” he said. “In fact, one of Trump’s supporters says she has gifted him a goldendoodle puppy named Patton, but we don’t know yet whether Trump has accepted that gift.”

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