They’ve met the pope and R2-D2 of Star Wars fame, presided over the Easter Egg Roll and cheered up wounded veterans. Sunny and Bo, the Obamas’ Portuguese water dogs, are nearing the end of their terms as canine ambassadors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Presidential pets have always played an important, if unofficial, role in the White House. They can welcome visitors, connect with the public and provide companionship to the president and first family.
The White House also has been home to decidedly nontraditional pets. Theodore Roosevelt, an explorer and naturalist before he became president, kept more than 50 animals, including a badger, a flying squirrel, a lion and several bears.
Calvin Coolidge had a rare pygmy hippo named William Johnson Hippopotamus — “Billy,” to close friends.
President George W. Bush said he found solace in his Scottish terrier, Barney. “He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend,” Bush said.
Learn more about some presidential pets in this video: