Wednesday, March 23, 2011

President Clinton, Socks, and Buddy

Mr. William Jefferson Clinton got elected the 42nd president of the United States in 1992, and when he took office, he did not have a dog.  All he had was a cat, and this just seems wrong to me!  Of course, I do have to admit that Socks was a pretty cute cat, and that's mainly because he was black-and-white, and a tuxedo cat, just like my brother Charlie.

Socks was adopted by the Clinton family when they lived in Little Rock, where Mr. Clinton was the governor of the state of Arkansas.  And what happened was that Chelsea, who was the daughter of Bill and Hilary Clinton, was leaving her piano teacher's house one day in 1991, and Socks just jumped into her arms.  So I guess Chelsea talked her mom and dad into letting her keep the cat.  No one knew exactly when he was born, but the best guess was that it was in March of 1989.

Then in 1992, Mr. Clinton got elected President, and the Clintons moved to the White House.  Of course, Socks went along, and he assumed the important position of First Cat.  Sometimes he shared his food and water with a stray tabby named Slippers, but mostly Socks was the one who got all the publicity.  He often went on visits to schools and hospitals, so I think he must have been a very sociable and friendly cat.

There was a cartoon version of Socks who was the host of the children's White House website, so lots of kids knew about Socks and wrote letters to him.  Representative Dan Burton, who didn't like President Clinton very much, said one time that it was a waste of White House staff, postage, and stationery to answer mail addressed to Socks.  But luckily, most people didn't feel that way.

So anyway, Socks was the only First Pet during President Clinton's first term in office.  But after the second term started, the Clintons decided to get a dog.  So they adopted Buddy, who was a chocolate lab.  Buddy was born in September 1997 in Caroline County, Maryland, and he moved into the White House when he was three months old.  President Clinton named him after his great-uncle, Henry Oren "Buddy" Grisham, who had died the previous June.

Buddy was a frisky, happy puppy, and right away Socks hated him, and never stopped hating him.  So the two First Pets had to be kept in different parts of the White House living quarters.

President Clinton used to go out running with Buddy, and he also played fetch with him and got his picture taken with him pretty often.  So everybody knew about Buddy, including lots of children who wrote letters to him.  After a while, Mrs. Clinton wrote a book that was called Dear Socks, Dear Buddy:  Kids' Letters to the First Pets.  This book came out in 1998, and it had more than 50 letters in it and more than 80 photos of Socks and Buddy.

When President Clinton's second term ended, the family moved to a house in Chappaqua, New York, but this house was too small for them to be able to keep Buddy and Socks separated.  So Socks stayed with Mr. Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie.

Buddy moved to New York with the Clintons, but in 2002 a very tragic thing happened, which was that Buddy got hit by a car and killed.  The Clintons weren't home at the time, but some Secret Service officers were taking care of the house and of Buddy.  A contractor came over to do some work, and when he left, Buddy was playfully chasing after him, and that's when he got hit by the car.

Three years later, in 2005, Mr. Clinton got another chocolate lab that he named Seamus.

Socks, meanwhile, went on having a nice life with Betty Currie until he got cancer of the jaw.  On February 20, 2009, he had to be put to sleep.  He was almost 20 years old by then, and he had had many adventures, including living in the White House.  Not many cats can say that, or dogs either!