The paws that refresh

Pets: Four-footed friends may make presidents kinder, gentler.

January 07, 2001|By Saeed Ahmed | Saeed Ahmed,Cox News Service

When George W. Bush is sworn in as president Jan. 20, he won't be the only new White House occupant with a presidential pedigree.

He will be joined by Spot Fetcher Bush, a feisty English springer spaniel who's the daughter of former president George Bush's famous dog, Millie.

Millie's canine view of life in the White House "as told to" then-first lady Barbara Bush became a best seller.

Now, it's Spot's turn to have the run of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. She will share it with a 12-week-old Scottish terrier, Barney, and the Bushes' two cats: a short-haired black cat named India, and an orange and white six-toed kitten named Ernie.

"Spot was born in the White House so it will be a bit of a homecoming for her," says Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for the president-elect.

Over the years, the White House has been home to more than 400 animals -- from Abraham Lincoln's goat, Nanny, to President Clinton's Labrador, Buddy.

The Bush animal dynasty connection, however, is a historical first, says Dr. Ron Elmore, associate dean of Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, who has researched the importance of pets in the lives of presidents. With more American households boasting pets than children, first pets have been a source of entertainment for the public and the press, and a boon to a president's image.

"People identify with pets, and I'm absolutely convinced that the animals who lived in the White House helped our presidents win friends and ease tensions," Elmore says.

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