Political pooches and pooches on parade

Monday, September 28, 2009

This is Dogs in Politics Week. Most White House occupants have shared their homes with dogs, but probably the most famous of the pup class was Fala, a terrier given to President Franklin D. Roosevelt by his close friend and confidant, Margaret Suckley. Fala became an honorary army private, receiving this tribute for contributing a dollar to the war effort, setting a trend for the rest of the dogs in America. Fala is depicted in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. (Meggie, Roosevelt's other terrier, was infamous for biting a senator.) Here are some fun presidential pooch trivia facts:

*Laddie Boy, an Airedale terrier belonging to Warren G. Harding, attended cabinet meetings where he had his own chair.

*Pushinka, John F. Kennedy's dog, a gift from Khrushchev, had puppies while she lived at the White House.

* George Bush, Sr.'s Springer Spaniel, Millie,was the author of Millie's Book, an adventure written from a dog's- eye perspective, by First Lady Barbara Bush. Marketed to children, it was a hit with many dog lovers, who enjoyed seeing the White House through canine eyes.

*Yuki, Lyndon Johnson's dog, lifted his leg in the oval office in front of the Shah of Iran. He also made headlines for biting a white house police officer.

*Woodrow Wilson was the first to shake hands with a dog named Stubby, a bullterrier who captured a German spy in World War 1.

*Richard Nixon's best known dog was Checkers, but the Nixons also had a Yorkshire Terrier and an Irish Setter while in the White House. It was reported that Nixon requested that Checkers be given helicopter riding lesson.

The current furbaby resident in the White House is Bo, a Portuguese water dog, a gift from Senator Ed Kennedy, who had several Portuguese water dogs. The Washington Post reported that Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, chose the name Bo because first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley. The name for the dog was an apparent reference to the singer "Bo" Diddley.

If you are interested in photos or specific info on any of the former four-footed White House occupants, go to www.presidentialpetmuseum.com. Roy Rowan and Brooke Janis have written a new book, First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Dogs, which includes facts on First Dog Bo, and is available from Amazon for just $9.95.

In the midst of all the political uproar right now, Former President Harry Truman advice is relevant:

"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog!"

And if you have a dog, and want to spend a fun time with him (or her), you are invited to a Woofs and Wags Event to be held in Storm Lake, Saturday, Oct. 3. A rummage sale and bake sale will be held in the Office Elements Parking Lot, at 1280 North Lake Avenue (just north of Hy-Vee). Friends of the TLC will be serving an assortment of food, from hot dogs, chips, and pop, to funnel cakes and ice cream. Kids from 3 to 103 will enjoy watching Goose the Clown transform balloons into various animal shapes, and Brittney Edwards, owner of Pampered Pup Grooming, will be available to do dog nail trims. BYOD (BRING YOUR OWN DOG) to meet some of the great TLC dogs who are looking for forever homes, and plan to participate in the POOCH PARADE at 2:30. Who knows...your dog might win a prize! If you enjoy fun, food and furbabies, you won't want to miss this Woofs and Wags event!

* Pauline Larsen can be contacted at Box 373, Newell, Iowa 50568 or email at plarsen@rconnect.com.