Bunny here at the keyboard sharing a little history lesson with you on this fine President’s Day.
Since my humans have the day off in celebration of two of our finest Presidents, I thought I’d share a little Presidential history with you. Of course, the history that really counts is the Presidential pooches that resided in the White House. Currently, Sunny and Bo the Portuguese Water Spaniels are enjoying their last year in the White House but they have had some equally famous counterparts.
As I was researching some of the First Dogs throughout history, one story was begging to be shared.
Warren G. Harding was our 29th President and he served from 1921-1923. He’s one of the few Presidents who died in office. The day after his inauguration, Laddie Boy, a six-month-old Airedale arrived at the White House and took up residence. President Harding had been asked to be informed as soon as Laddie Boy arrived, and he interrupted a cabinet meeting to go and meet his new puppy when he got there.
They say that Laddie Boy saw more coverage in the press than any other First Dog. President Harding had worked as a newspaper man and some speculate that because of that, the press had more access to his dog than they have with other pets who have lived in the White House. I think that it might also have had something to do with the fact that President Harding was also clearly a dog lover. In any event, seven days after Laddie Boy arrived, it was reported that he had mastered the trick of carrying the newspaper to the President at the breakfast table. It certainly wouldn’t be the most endearing or impressive story that would be told, though.
There is a kennel at the White House where Presidential pups can reside, but the Hardings kept Laddie Boy with them almost all of the time. Not only was he present for events like the Easter egg roll, but he had his own chair to sit in during cabinet meetings. My favorite story was about his first birthday, though.
For his first birthday, his father sent him a birthday cake made out of dog biscuits. He also got a letter from his father, who also included some party invitations for him to send out to his favorite dogs and humans. There were a lot of photos taken of him with his birthday cake and it sounds like he celebrated his big day in style.
Sometimes, Laddie Boy was known to send letters to the press to express his opinions on things. It seems that a lot of people must have been interested in what he had to say. One letter he wrote was published in the New York Times.
So many people express a wish to see me, and I shake hands with so many callers at the Executive Mansion that I fear there are some people who will suspect me of political inclinations. From what I see of politics, I am sure I have no such aspirations.
President Harding was struggling with the burden of some scandals that had cropped up during his tenure, so he and the First Lady left and went on a trip to visit the West Coast and Alaska. Since it was such a long trip, Laddie Boy was left behind. During the trip, the President started feeling unwell more and more often and he died while they were away. Many people worried about how Laddie Boy would take not seeing his favorite person. Many newsboys across the country donated a penny in honor of President Harding’s memory. The pennies were all melted and a sculpture of Laddie Boy was made with them. They say he sat fifteen hours for the sculptor to make his rendition of him.
Not long after the President’s death, Mrs. Harding wanted to do something to show her appreciation to Harry Barker, who was a secret service agent. She gave Laddie Boy to him and his wife and not long after that, they moved to Boston when Agent Barker was transferred there. It was a fortunate thing, because Mrs. Harding died the next year. Laddie Boy was said to have lived the rest of his life comfortably there until he passed away from old age.
I think this goes to show that dogs have been living well for a lot longer than people realize.
Dogs having birthday parties isn’t just something that people do now to spoil their dogs. We’ve been living well for longer than people realize. I am sure that living life in the public eye wasn’t always easy, but it sounds like Laddie Boy set a good example for pups and people throughout the land.