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Posted on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 6 a.m.

'Pets at the White House' gives a glimpse into the lives of presidential pets

By Lorrie Shaw

We are a country of pet lovers, and those who live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. are no exception.

Over the past few decades, the pets of first families have been as much a focus of public attention, just as their human counterparts.

In the new coffee table book by Jennifer Boswell Pickens, she details the chronology with “first pets” from the years of President Kennedy to present time.

"Pets at the White House" is filled with photos from each era, the introduction also showcases the Coolidge years, when the first family kept all sorts of pets including a pet raccoon who walked on a leash.

"I think a lot of people have their own pets and a lot of people find comfort with their animals," said the Dallas-based author, who has two dogs of her own.

First pets have become a part of pop culture of sorts in more recent administrations, when Millie, a springer spaniel could be regularly seen tagging along behind George H.W. Bush on the White House lawn and the loveable chocolate Labrador, Buddy who was a frequent sight during the Clinton administration.

Barney, a Scottish terrier who called the White House home during George W. Bush’s presidency demonstrated how much of a part of the family that he was as he wore the “Barney Cam” — a small video camera that was affixed to his collar - to help give a dog’s eye view of his home during the holidays to showcase the White House’s Christmas decorations.

The current first dog, Bo Obama — a Portuguese water dog — has his own chapter in the book and has been the center of much media attention. He recently celebrated his fourth birthday.

Cats have been included in first family menageries as well, including the Clinton’s treasured feline, Socks, and Misty, who made the nation’s most famous address home during the Carter administration.

Anita McBride, Laura Bush's chief of staff in the White House, consulted on the book and said, "The pets really were a big part of helping to tell the story of life in the White House."

"Pets at the White House” features more than 200 photographs and interviews from former residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., including Betty Ford, Barbara Bush and those who have been closest to the first families.

Click here to read more from a recent AP article, and here, on where to purchase the book locally.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.


Sarah Rigg

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

Hah, I love the raccoon story - hadn't heard about that before!