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The Most Famous First Pets to Live in the White House

Dogs and cats have lived at the White House during many presidential terms. So have exotic birds, a flock of sheep and even more unconventional animals!

Barney and Miss BeazleyShawn Thew/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Barney and Miss Beazley

The Scottish Terriers, pets of President George W. Bush, were the subjects of many Bush family Christmas skits.

Raccoonvia Library of Congress


Calvin Coolidge also kept a small zoo at the White House. Coolidge had a bobcat, a wallaby, two lion cubs, a pygmy hippo, a bear, and a domesticated raccoon. The raccoon, named Rebecca, was kept by Coolidge’s wife, Grace, and was allowed to walk around the White House. The raccoon was even led by a leash at other times, though it was originally sent to the family for Thanksgiving to be eaten with the meal. But the family found the raccoon too domesticated to consume. Instead, the raccoon got her own place to stay in a tree and grew to enjoy playing with a bar of soap in a bathtub filled with a little water. Other Coolidge pets included a duiker (a small antelope), ducks, two canaries named Nip and Tuck, a goose called Enoch, and Smoky the bobcat.

angry young possumLisa Hagan/Shutterstock


Benjamin Harrison had two opossums during his presidency. The opossums were named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection; reciprocity and protection were part of the 1892 Republican Party platform. We bet you had no idea that these words we use all the time were coined by presidents.

pet Beagles, Him and HerBill Allen/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Him and Her

President Lyndon B. Johnson's popular pups—whose actual names were Him and Her—once made the cover of Life magazine. Here they are on a walk with the president and the press on the White House lawn.

Beautiful gamecock walking in nature.toeytoey/Shutterstock


Ulysses S. Grant kept gamecocks at the White House during his presidential term. The birds actually belonged to his son Jesse Grant. Check out these wacky chicken coops that actually exist, like the "Hotel Eggcelsior."

adorable siberian tiger cub standing outdoorsotsphoto/Shutterstock

Tiger cubs

The Sultan of Oman gifted Martin Van Buren two tiger cubs. Van Buren later gave the cubs to a zoo.

Pauline the Cowvia Library of Congress

Pauline the cow

William Howard Taft kept a cow named Pauline around so he and his family could enjoy milk. Pauline was the most recent cow to live at the White House. Check out these 12 facts about the White House that you never learned in school.

Grizzly bear closeupGeorgia Evans/Shutterstock

Grizzly bear

Thomas Jefferson, known as a man of science, received a pair of grizzly bears from explorer Zebulon Pike. They stayed on the White House lawn in cages for several months until they were taken to a museum in Philadelphia.

American bald eagle landing on tree snag against Alaska's Kenai region mountainsFloridaStock/Shutterstock


James Buchanan kept an eagle during his term. Do you know why the bald eagle almost wasn’t the national bird?

House mouse on the edge of a glass jar. Variation 2A. Pomidorov/Shutterstock


Andrew Johnson, the first president to be impeached, kept mice he found in the White House and fed them. Check out some other fascinating facts you never knew about U.S. presidents.

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Originally Published in The Family Handyman