Although President Warren Harding accomplished little while in office, he invented the now common presidential doggie photo op. Harding loved dogs and used them during his presidential campaign to demonstrate his connection to the average person. The Hardings’ Airedale Laddie Boy certainly knew how to steal the spotlight. His popularity with reporters was so great that they often quoted him in pretend interviews. For example, one newspaper included Laddie Boy’s hope that watchdogs would be given an eight-hour workday.
Laddie Boy was always included in White House activities, such as welcoming visitors. Harding even gave the dog a hand carved chair to sit in during cabinet meetings. Considering the financial problems and scandals his administration encountered, Harding must have felt comforted by Laddie Boy’s presence at official White House functions. On his birthday, other local dogs were invited to share Laddie Boy’s birthday cake made out of dog biscuits.
Despite his celebrity status, Laddie Boy also enjoyed some regular dog activities in his free time. For example, Harding’s fondness for practicing his golf swing on the White House Lawn was matched by Laddie Boy’s enthusiasm for retrieving the golf balls. Laddie Boy also regularly brought the morning paper to his master.
Unlike his master, Laddie Boy’s popularity never diminished. When Harding died, schoolchildren collected pennies that were melted down and molded into a likeness of the dog. Today visitors to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C can view Laddie Boy’s statue.