Photo Credit: Pushinka on the South Lawn of the White House, 1961. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Photo by Robert Knudsen.
Alligators, Goats, Dogs, Cats…and other Presidential Pets!
New Exhibition at the Charles M. Schulz Museum,
Snoopy Presents: Lucky Dogs and Presidential Pets
Opens June 30, 2016
Did you know that President John Quincy Adams had an alligator living in the White House in an unfinished East Room bathtub? Hundreds of pets have lived alongside American presidents, including dogs, cats, birds, alligators, a hyena, a raccoon, and even a one-legged rooster!
The Charles M. Schulz Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Snoopy Present: Lucky Dogs and Presidential Pets, on view beginning June 20, 2016, features photos and fun facts about presidential pets and includes items on special loan from Presidential libraries, such as the collar and leash of President Franklin Roosevelt’s dog, Fala, and a painting of Rex, the Reagan family dog. This exhibition coincides with the Museum’s main exhibition, Mr. Schulz Goes to Washington, on view from April 30 to December 4, 2016, which looks at the lighter-side of politics and its intersection with the life of Charles Schulz.
Many of the first presidential pets, such as George Washington’s hunting hounds and Thomas Jefferson’s riding horses, reflected the agrarian lifestyle of the newly formed American democracy. Today, dogs and cats typically live with their presidential families in the White House. And like Snoopy, who also visits the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll, presidential pets enjoy a special celebrity status thanks to their charm, universal appeal, and a natural ability to make us smile.
The Kennedy family dog, Pushinka (pictured at top), was a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev, given in 1961 amid Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. Pushinka’s mother was Strelka, who flew aboard the Sputnik 5 space capsule and became one of the first living creatures to fly into orbit and safely return to Earth. Pushinka had four puppies with Charlie, the family’s Welsh terrier, and President Kennedy called them “pupniks.”
When the Clinton family moved into the White House in 1993, they brought their black-and-white cat named Socks along with them. Socks and Buddy, the Clinton family’s Labrador retriever, both became the recipients of numerous gifts from adoring fans, from paintings to embroidered sweaters.