September 11, 2015 | Posted in 1st Doggies
Today, historians and old timers talk about Laddie Boy as the most celebrated of all presidential dogs in America. The fame of Roosevelt’s Fala and all other presidential pooches pales in comparison to what Laddie Boy enjoyed during his lifetime.
Laddie Boy, the Airedale Terrier, was the prized pet of Warren Harding; the 29th president of America. He was born on July 26th, 1920 and died on died on January 23rd, 1929.
He was Harding’s constant companion and on the golf course, Laddie Boy loved to get the ball back to Harding every time a misdirected presidential hit struck a tree. He was allowed to attend important meetings of the cabinet; he’d sit on his own exquisitely hand-crafted chair while the president and his men discussed and debated weighty matters. Laddie Boy was a regular feature at the fundraisings that the first lady attended.
As mentioned above, no presidential pooch received the kind of attention from the press that Laddie Boy did; and he absorbed it all like a seasoned pro. For dailies such as the New York Times, it was news fit to publish if the dog ran the presidential cat up a tree or if got a new playmate. Laddie Boy also “communicated” with newspapers and in one letter that he “wrote” to a daily, he said – “So many people express a wish to see me, and I shake hands with so many callers at the Executive Mansion that I fear there are some people who will suspect me of political inclinations. From what I see of politics, I am sure I have no such aspirations.”
Laddie Boy arrived at the White House on March 5, 1921. Harding, as per his instructions, was informed immediately of the pup’s arrival. The president was participating in his first cabinet meeting at that time. Within a week, the dog’s intelligence and indomitable terrier genes made themselves manifest and he was delivering the newspaper to Harding every day. Harding commissioned one thousand miniatures of Laddie Boy and took great pleasure in handing these out to his supporters. Today, these miniatures are prized collectors’ items and fetch handsome amounts.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History has in its collection a very unusual sculpture of Laddie Boy by sculptress Bashka Paeff; it is made of more than 19,000 pennies that newspaper delivery boys collected and donated for the purpose. This was a tribute to Harding, who rose from being a humble newspaperman to America’s president.
Perhaps, one of the reasons why Laddie Boy enjoyed such fame was that the childless Harding couple loved him like a child. He had unrestricted access to the White House living quarters; he spent hardly any time in the White House kennels.
It is said that for three days prior to the death of Harding, Laddie Boy was unusually restless and howled inconsolably. Almost as if the terrier had a sense of foreboding of some imminent tragedy.
Laddie Boy spent his years after Harding’s death with Harry Barker, a Secret Service agent assigned on White House duty. Records from those days tell us that the Barkers proved to be good pet parents to this Airedale Terrier, who but for his master’s short stay as president, would have achieved even more fame.