6 Bizarre Names of President’s Pets

Weird names for the president’s pets are a thing of that past that we need to bring back.

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President William McKinley with a superimposed parrot for representation purposes. Photo by Monica Inouye / SACmedia.

Presidential pets have been a tradition at the White House since George Washington; only two presidents never kept pets. While President Obama’s Portuguese Water Dogs, Bo and Sunny, and President Bush’s black shorthair cat, India, are what we think of modern presidential furballs, past presidents have had some of the strangest pets with even stranger names.

1. “Misty Malarky Ying Yang” – President Jimmy Carter’s daughter’s Siamese cat

The origins of this cat’s name are unknown other than being named by a young girl. Misty Malarky Ying Yang even inspired a song written by Gabor Szabo!

President Jimmy Carter’s daughter with her cat. Photo by A. Currell on Flickr.com.

2. “Tax Reduction” and “Budget Bureau” – President Calvin Coolidge’s lions cubs

These lion cubs were gifts from Johannesburg, South Africa. He named them to make a statement about his economic policy – implementing low taxes and a strong federal budget – and he fed them so they were the exact same size – a statement of the policies’ equal importance.

President Coolidge’s two lion cubs. Photo from the Library of Congress.

3. “Rebecca” the Raccoon – First Lady Grace Coolidge’s pet raccoon.

Rebecca was meant to be served at Thanksgiving dinner in 1926, but the First Lady decided to keep her instead; she even built a treehouse for her in one of the White House trees. The First Lady wrote that she was let loose indoors and would amuse herself in the tub with a bar of soap for hours.

First Lady Grace Coolidge with her raccoon, Rebecca. Photo from the Library of Congress.

4. “Emily Spinach” – President Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter’s garter snake

President Roosevelt was known for loving animals and had over 20 pets. The origin of the snake’s name from an interview when President Roosevelt’s daughter said, “as green as spinach and as thin as my Aunt Emily.”

A green garter snake. / Wikipedia Commons.

5. “Washington Post” – President William McKinley’s Mexican parrot

It is unclear why President McKinley named his bird “Washington Post,” but it could be because of the president’s efforts to form a respectable relationship with the press. President McKinley’s parrot could whistle the tune of “Yankee Doodle” and was officially appointed by the President as the White House greeter.

President William McKinley with a superimposed parrot for representation purposes. Photo by Monica Inouye / SACmedia.

6. “Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection” – President Benjamin Harrison’s opossums

Named after the platform of the Republican party at the time, it was said that they were gifted by Maryland people with red, white and blue ribbons around their neck. President Harrison was fond of the marsupials and they would be seen running around the White House floors.

One of the White House’s opossums. Photo from the Library of Congress.