President George W. Bush came into office with a dog who was already very familiar with the White House. Spot, or Spotty as family members called her, was the daughter of the first president Bush’s English springer spaniel Millie. Spot was named after Scott Fletcher, the shortstop on the Texas Rangers baseball team. She loved the outdoors and chased birds grasshoppers and anything else she could find at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas. Like many White House dogs she welcomed visitors to the Oval Office. President Bush said, “Spot understands the decorum of the Oval Office, so she gets to go in.”
Spot aboard Marine One
In 2001 Spotty was no longer the Bush family’s only dog. Barney the Scottish terrier arrived shortly after the 2000 presidential election. Though he was more hyperactive than Spot, the dogs became fast friends. Barney lost his companion in 2004. Spot was euthanized at age 14 after having several strokes.
Barney in Oval Office, 2005
During his master’s time in office, Barney became a media star. He had his own website and “Barney cam” showed videos from his perspective of White House visitors and staff. The public looked forward to these videos on YouTube during Christmas time. President Bush called First Dog Barney “the son I never had.” Barney loved to play ball on the White House lawn and his favorite activity at Camp David was chasing golf balls. Though he was happy-go-lucky with the family, he didn’t like all humans. As First Dog he bit a reporter and another White House visitor. In contrast, he did get along with Miss Beazley, a Scottish terrier puppy given to Laura Bush from her husband as a birthday gift in 2004.
Laura Bush with Barney, cat India, and Miss Beazley, Dec. 2006
Miss Beazley was named after a character in the children’s book The Enormous Egg. Perhaps Barney liked her because she was actually Barney’s niece. Anyway the feeling was mutual and Miss Beazley was a great friend to Barney. After Barney’s death from cancer at age 12 Laura Bush said, “Miss Beazley really seems to be sad… She seems a little lost looking for Barney.” After her own fight with cancer, Miss Beazley died in May 2014. George W. Bush gave Miss Beazley credit for never holding a grudge against Barney even though he got so much of the nation’s attention.
“Millie was a joy to us in the White House,” said First Lady Barbara Bush of the family’s English Springer Spaniel. She helped to give George Bush Senior’s presidency a sense of family. In fact, Millie had her own family of puppies while living at the White House. A cage was set up in the East Room for tourists to see the puppies. President Bush took time out to play with the puppies, rolling around on the White House lawn with them.
Millie and her puppies also entertained the president’s guests. He took every delegation, foreign, congressional, etc. to see the puppies. Millie and one of her sons, Ranger, even welcomed Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
When Barbara Bush needed help raising money for her literacy foundation, Millie was glad to assist. In Millie’s Book, as the book jacket claimed, Millie dictated her White House experiences to Barbara. “I often sit in on the morning briefings,” Millie said. She also bragged about the opportunity to meet important people like journalist Diane Sawyer, preacher Billy Graham, and the President of France. Of course, there were times when even a famous dog wanted to be like other dogs. Millie admitted, “I sometimes want to go out and hunt for squirrels.” Millie’s Book made over one million dollars for the literacy foundation.
Even though she was a celebrity, Millie eventually had to give up her position as White House dog when her master lost to Bill Clinton. Still, she stood proudly by her family as they greeted the Clintons on the White House porch. Eventually Millie’s daughter, Spot, would return to the White House as the second George Bush’s presidential dog.