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Famous presidential pooches

By: Matt Hickman on June 5, 2012, 6:38 p.m.
Laddie, terrier

Photo: National Photo Co. [Public domain] / Wikimedia Commons

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Laddie Boy the Airdale terrier (Warren G. Harding)

Although the pet-keeping habits of scandal-plagued newspaper publisher-turned-president Warren G. Harding wouldn’t have made Marc Morrone weak in the knees in the same manner as his Dr. Doolittle-esque successor, Calvin Coolidge, Harding is regarded as owning the first White House dog to reach bona fide celebrity status. As noted by Smithsonian Magazine, Harding’s beloved Airdale terrier, Laddie Boy, was the first presidential pooch to receive regular press in the country’s newspapers (that the pooch attended cabinet meetings in his own custom-made chair and held faux press conferences probably had something to do with this). Remarks Tom Crouch, a Smithsonian Institute historian: "While no one remembers him today, Laddie Boy's contemporary fame puts Roosevelt's Fala, LBJ's beagles and Barney Bush in the shade. That dog got a huge amount of attention in the press. There have been famous dogs since, but never anything like this.” After Harding passed away while in office in 1923, a life-size statue of Laddie Boy the pooch outlived his owner by six years was created by Boston-based sculptress Bashka Paeff using more than 19,000 melted pennies donated by in-mourning newsboys. Harding’s predecessor, Woodrow Wilson, also owned an Airdale but was better known for his tobacco-loving pet ram named Old Ike.