When Lyndon Johnson became president, he brought two beagles named Him and Her to the White House. Both Him and Her attended official White House functions. Even though Him once left a puddle on a chair during a party, the president refused to make Him stay elsewhere while his master entertained. Both Him and Her had the run of the Oval Office. Johnson signed the law that created The Great Society–a set of programs that gave more rights to African Americans and poor people–in the presence of his dogs.
Johnson often combined press conferences with dog walks. Most of the time, these walks went well. The walks made good copy for reporters because the public loved seeing the president with his beagles. Johnson tried to get his dogs to do different tricks for the cameras. He stuffed his pockets with candy-coated doggy vitamins to get Him and Her to perform.
One act, however, made the American people and Johnson’s dogs howl. During a press conference, Johnson picked one of the beagles up by its ears. Animal rights groups complained that Johnson was mistreating the dogs. Suddenly Johnson and his dogs were front-page news. Other than that incident, however, Him and Her seemed to enjoy their time as presidential pups.
After Him and Her died, Johnson felt pretty lonely in that big house. Fortunately his daughter found a stray running along the highway. She stopped at a gas station to ask whom he belonged to, but no one knew. She decided to bring the little white dog to the White House.
Lyndon Johnson Family on Christmas Eve 1968. Johnson is holding Yuki
Johnson loved the little mutt and named him Yuki. Johnson said that Yuki was “the friendliest, the smartest, and the most constant in his attentions of all the dogs I’ve known.” The president took Yuki with him everywhere. He and the dog travelled together on Air Force One. Yuki attended cabinet meetings, though he did so under the table. Unlike President Harding’s dog Laddie Boy, Yuki did not sit in his own chair for cabinet meetings.
One of Johnson’s favorite things to do with Yuki was to howl with him. Johnson claimed that Yuki “had a Texas accent.” Yuki and the president howled together in the presence of important visitors like the Chancellor of Germany, who was a bit shocked at the performance!
The president needed the support of his loyal dog as protests against the Vietnam War increased.
Yuki went back to Johnson’s Texas ranch after his master retired from the presidency. He was at Johnson’s side in 1973 when the former president died.
Calvin Coolidge had an appropriate birthday for a future president; he was born on the Fourth of July. As the son of a Vermont general store owner, he would shy away from strangers who came to his father’s shop. He remained distant and uncomfortable in social gatherings for the rest of his life.
Coolidge was visiting his father when he was awakened by the news of President Harding’s death. As Harding’s vice-president, he now had to lead the country. Since his father was a notary public, he performed the oath of office for his son.
Official Presidential Portrait of Calvin Coolidge
Once president, Coolidge promoted the interests of big business. He believed “the more a man makes, the more he can pay his workmen.” Businesses were especially productive during the Coolidge administration. For the first time the middle class could afford to buy items like automobiles and washing machines.
His decisions on social issues were primarily negative; he upheld a strict immigration policy and believed the government should not help the poor. Yet after the scandals of the Harding administration, people admired his honesty. They also liked the fact that the economy was doing well.
Coolidge had many personal flaws. He was reluctant to speak at or even attend social gatherings, and when he did speak, what he said was often tactless. Fortunately for guests, his flaws were offset by the graciousness of his wife.
Though “Silent Cal” seemed like a cold fish to the outside world, Coolidge loved his family. He was devastated by his son Calvin’s death. He said “If I had not been President he would not have raised a blister on his toe…playing lawn tennis on the South grounds…which resulted in blood poisoning…When he went, the power and the glory of the Presidency went with him.”
Coolidge’s economic policies while in office would later inspire the administration of Ronald Reagan.
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.