Sunday, July 25, 2010

A White House Full of Dogs!

The president that maybe had the most dogs and other pets of any president was Theodore Roosevelt.  And besides all those animals, he also had six kids and a wife, and they all loved animals, too.  Mr. Roosevelt started out being the vice-president, but then in 1901 when President McKinley got shot and died, Mr. Roosevelt became the president.

But before he got to be president, Mr. Roosevelt did a whole bunch of other stuff.  He grew up in New York City, but he was sick a lot as a child because he had asthma.  He liked to read books about nature and animals, and he started doing stuff like boxing to make himself stronger.  Then he went to Harvard, and after that he was in the state legislature.  He wrote a book about the Navy, lived in the Badlands for a few years, fought in the Spanish-American War, and then was governor of New York.

So as you can see, Mr. Roosevelt was a very busy man.  And when he became the president, he was only 42 years old, and that meant he was the youngest man to ever be the president.  Oh, and another thing he did was he got married, but his first wife died right after their daughter, Alice, was born.  Then later Mr. Roosevelt married again, and he and his second wife, Edith, had 5 children.  Their names were Theodore Jr., Kermit, Ethel, Archie, and Quentin.  Sagamore Hill, which was the name of their family home, was in a town called Oyster Bay, on Long Island.

Kermit with Blackjack
Anyway, that's enough about the people.  Now I will tell you about the animals that the Roosevelt family had.  I don't know if all of these lived in Washington at the White House, but at least some of them did.  The dogs were:  Pete, a bull terrier; Blackjack, a Manchester terrier; Rollo, a St. Bernard; Gem, a mixed breed; Skip, a rat terrier; Peter, a terrier; Manchu, a Pekingese; Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever; and Susan, a mixed breed.

Quentin with Eli Yale
The cats were named Tom Quartz and Slippers.  Also there were 4 Guinea pigs named Dr. Johnson, Fighting Bob Evans, Bishop Doane, and Father O'Grady.  There was a rat named Jonathan, a pig named Maude, a macaw named Eli Yale, a small bear named Jonathan Edwards, a garter snake named Emily Spinach, a pony named Algonquin, another pony named Fidelity, a badger named Josiah, a hen named Baron Spreckle, and a one-legged rooster.

So as you can see, the Roosevelt family liked to give their animals interesting names!  President Roosevelt's favorite dog was Skip, the rat terrier.  He found Skip while he was hunting bears in the Grand Canyon and brought him home.  Skip was very affectionate and liked to sit on the president's lap. Sometimes President Roosevelt took Skip hunting, and if Skip couldn't keep up with the hunters, he got to ride on the president's horse with him.  The children liked to play with Skip, and Archie especially liked to run races with him in the halls of the White House.

Sagamore Hill
The top dog at the White House was Rollo, the St. Bernard.  He was very friendly and got special treatment from the president.  But Pete the bull terrier was a naughty dog.  He nipped a naval officer on the leg, snapped at some cabinet members, and tore the pants of the French Ambassador.  So Pete had to go live at Sagamore Hill after that.

Alice with a dog
Manchu, who was a little black Pekingese, was given to Alice by the Empress Dowager Ci-Xi of China.  Alice said that one time she saw Manchu dancing on her hind legs in the moonlight on the White House lawn.

President Roosevelt was reelected in 1904, but he didn't want to run again in 1908.  After he stopped being president, he went on a safari in Africa, where he killed some elephants and rhinos and other animals, which I think was not very nice of him.  In 1912, he decided he would run for president again after all, and he started the Bull Moose Party.  But he lost the election to Woodrow Wilson.  Then he went on a trip to South America, where he got malaria, and after that his health was always kind of bad, so he died in 1919 when he was only 60.

Anyway, even though he was always going hunting and shooting animals, President Roosevelt did a lot of good stuff, like for example making the first National Parks.  Also he helped end the war between the Russians and Japanese, so he won a Nobel Peace Prize.  He was the first American to ever win this prize.

And of course, I have to mention the Teddy Bear, which was named after President Roosevelt.  This happened because when Mr. Roosevelt was out hunting for bears one day, he refused to shoot a mama bear that was with her cub.  So a toy maker asked if he could name his stuffed bears "Teddy," and Mr. Roosevelt said that would be okay.  And that's how the world ended up with Teddy Bears!


  1. would you like to have the name Kermit?? OH well...guess they didn't know about "Kermit the frog" on Sesame Street yet! There's a guy I would have voted for; he liked animals and he loved the great outdoors!! Thanks for remembering him - I always found him much more interesting than FDR!!
    Love, AP

  2. Dear Aunt Patty,
    I guess the name Kermit was just a regular name until it got given to a frog. But now it makes us giggle when we hear it! I think it was a family name for Kermit's mom, Edith, and that's how he ended up with it. I will probably write about the other President Roosevelt one of these days, but I wanted to tell you about President Theodore Roosevelt first because he had so many dogs!
    Your Friend, Piper