“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.
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.