Along with the many responsibilities that come with being the leader of the free world are some perks; U.S. presidents do live at the White House, after all, and when it comes to pets, the sky's the limit.
The tradition of presidential pets dates back to the beginning. Founding father George Washington made the White House home to three American staghounds (Scentwell, Sweetlips and Vulcan) and four black-and-tan coonhounds (Drunkard, Taster, Tipler and Tipsey), not to mention a donkey named Royal Gift, a horse named Nelson, and a parrot who was tended to by the first lady.
But perhaps some of the most memorable first pets — aside from the bear kept by Theodore Roosevelt — came during the presidency of John F Kennedy. These creatures stand apart not only for their charming assortment and names, but for their sheer number. Here are the animals that helped make the Kennedy White House a home.
Charlie: A Welsh terrier given to the president by Joseph Kennedy.
Pushinka: The daughter of Soviet space dogs Strelka and Pushok, Pushinka was a gift to the young Caroline from Nikita Khrushchev.
Butterfly, White Tips, Blackie and Streaker: The four puppies of Pushinka and Charlie; the president referred to them as the “pupniks.”
Clipper: A German shepherd.
Shannon: A cocker spaniel given to the first family by fans in Ireland.
Wolf: An Irish wolfhound given to the family by friends in Ireland.
Gaullie: A poodle.
Tom Kitten: A cat.
Rufus: Jackie Kennedy's palomino horse.
Sardar: An Arabian horse given to the first lady by Ayub Khan, president of Pakistan.
Tex: A Yucatan bay pony gelding given to Caroline by Vice President Lyndon Johnson.
Macaroni: Caroline’s part-Shetland pony with whom she learned to ride. Macaroni had free reign on White House grounds and was the recipient of thousands of fan letters from the public.
Leprechaun: A Connemara pony given to John Jr. from the people of Ireland.
Robin: The family canary.
Bluebell and Marybelle: A pair of parakeets.
Zsa Zsa: A rabbit, of course.
Debbie and Billie: The requisite hamsters.
Ironically, the most famous of all Kennedy pets may have belonged to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Sen. Kennedy’s Portuguese water dog, Splash, was a fixture in Washington, D.C., and was the “voice” behind the book, “My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C.” It was Kennedy who gave the Obamas their Portuguese water dog, Bo.
Related pet stories on MNN:
- Celebrity pets: Furry friends of the rich and famous
- Pets that inherited a fortune
- The most famous presidential pooches