Everyone knows pets alleviate stress and spread joy in our lives, and few people have a higher-pressure job than the POTUS (President Of The United States).
Our presidents are known for many things, but children find few of these as captivating as the four-legged residents who’ve joined our nation’s leaders in The White House. What better way to teach kids the history of their country’s leaders than through the beloved pets of the First Families. These iconic companions even have their own museum, on whose website much of the fun “in-FUR-mation” below was found.
One very snowy winter, we spent almost the entire Presidents’ Day weekend hunting down facts and photos and making our own flash cards. We had a blast!
Now you and your kids can make your own flashcards with these instructions and facts to get you started.
Using index cards (we used 4” x 6” for a little extra room), and pictures found online, make a deck of flash cards with your kids. On one side, have a picture of a presidential pet with the corresponding name and breed. Add a few facts about the breed, too. On the other side of the card, place the picture and name of the President who owned the pet with his dates in office. You can also include important events or accomplishments that took place during his term(s). Many presidents owned more than one animal, so you can make multiple cards, if you choose. Kids will be very quick to learn the pet’s names, so those of their illustrious owners won’t be far behind!
#44 (2009-present) Current President, Barack Hussein Obama‘s family was given a Portuguese water dog, “Bo,” because they are, it is thought, a low-allergenic breed of dog, and one of the Obama girls (Malia), like many kids had both asthma and a desire for a furry friend!
#42 (1993 – 2001) William Jefferson Clinton - The Clinton family had a black and white domestic shorthaired cat, “Socks,” and later, the family welcomed a chocolate Labrador named “Buddy.”
#30 (1923-1929) Calvin Coolidge – Certainly not widely considered one of our “greatest” presidents, Coolidge, nonetheless, had the most impressive bunch of pets you could imagine! Have some fun looking up pictures of a Shomont White Collie named “Rob Roy,” an Airedale, a bulldog, canaries named “Nip” and “Tuck”, 2 cats, “Tiger” and “Blacky,” 2 raccoons, “Rebecca” and “Horace,” a donkey, “Ebeneezer,” a bobcat named “Smokey,” and a pygmy hippopotamus named “Billy”! And that’s not even half of their menagerie!
#32 (1933 – 1945) Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Although the Roosevelt family had quite a few BIG dogs – a German Shepherd, an English Sheepdog, and a Great Dane, among them, FDR’s most famous and popular pet was a clever little Scottish terrier named Fala. The only president to serve more than 8 years (he was so popular that he was elected to the office four times, before 2-term limits were imposed), Roosevelt led the country out of the Great Depression and triumphantly through World War II, among other great achievements, not to mention those of his First Lady, Eleanor.
#16 (1861 – 1865) Abraham Lincoln – Led us through the most divisive time in our history as a nation: The Civil War. The signer of The Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery in what were known as the Confederate States (The South), was a lover of animals and had many – among them, cats, dogs and goats. His dog, Fido (shown above), was the first Presidential pet to ever be photographed.
#1 (1789-1797) George Washington – General Washington became the first American president when our colonial troops won the American Revolution against the British, and we became a country in our own right. He remains the only president to be unanimously elected. He had a lot of animals, but interbred those French, English, and various local hounds he loved, eventually developing the breed we now know as the American Foxhound. A favorite among them was named “Vulcan,” for the Roman god of fire.
Extra Fun Fact: Did you know that the “official” name of the President’s Day holiday is “Washington’s Birthday”? Even though his birthday is on the 22nd of February and the 3rd Monday in February, which is the holiday designated to honor his birth, can never fall any later than the 21st!