The Newnan Times-Herald


Presidents have their pets

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jul. 12, 2017 - 6:06 AM

I always said that I would stay out of the political fray. I am not discussing politics in these columns. I refuse to express my opinion about anything to do with our current political situation. But I am going to break that rule here and now. As far as I know, President Trump does not currently have a pet in the White House. And that just ain’t right.

From George Washington’s American staghounds, coonhounds, and greyhounds, United States presidents and their families have often had pets while serving in office. I especially like knowing about the pets and the names they were/are given and why, if there is a story to be told.

President Theodore Roosevelt had more than dogs while he served in office. His collection included guinea pigs, ponies, a hen, a lizard, Manchester terrier, a blue macaw, a garter snake, mixed breed dogs, other terriers, a small bear, a piebald rat, a badger, a regular pig, a rabbit, mongrel, a Pekingese, a bull terrier, cats, a hyena, a Saint Bernard, barn owl, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, and a one-legged rooster. That sounds about right.
Do you know about the rumors surrounding Franklin Roosevelt, who in 1944 supposedly left behind his Scottish Terrier, Fala, in the Aleutian Islands by accident where he visited? At the taxpayers expense, he sent a U.S. Navy destroyer to retrieve his dog. He explained, “You can criticize me, my wife, and my family, but you can’t criticize my little dog…” That’s good enough for me.
Other presidents who owned and loved their pets, from John Adams to Barack Obama. Isn’t that everyone?
I am not saying Trump doesn’t have a pet in the White House; we just don’t know yet. But I hope he does. And what he might name them would be interesting. One daughter is Tiffany, and a son is Barron. Would his pets’ names be as interesting? I had a friend who named his golden retriever Midas. That might be a name he’d like.
My baby is named after a Looney Tune cartoon character. (Of course.) Who didn’t love Mel Blanc, the one man behind all the cartoon voices? Although Foghorn and Leghorn were my favorites, I couldn’t help but be impressed with his Southern Colonel, all dressed in white like KFC’s Colonel Sanders, calling his dog with his syrupy Southern accent from the front porch of his plantation home, “Oh, Belvedere! Come heah, boy.” 
I played the YouTube clip from that scene, and Hubby and I cracked up every time we viewed that 30-second clip (during cocktail hour – of course it was funny). Belvedere was out somewhere way-far-away on the property. Hearing his master’s voice, he came a-runnin’… over bogs, under fallen tree limbs, all-the-while being distracted by squirrels and rabbits, until after some length of time he finally made his way home. But because his erratic journey took so long, the colonel gave up and went inside before his faithful companion made it to the front door. And of course, the look on Belvedere’s face was priceless – “What the…?”
So, after cocktails, we named our schnauzer: oh, Belvedere, or Obie, for short. 
Don’t you just love learning how dogs get their names? I’d love to hear about yours. 
(Lee St. John, a retired Coweta County high school English teacher, is the author of five humorous books and two audio books.)