September 11, 2015 | Posted in 1st Doggies

President-Gerald-Ford-350PX-

© Mira Agron | Dreamstime.com

Gerald Ford and his wife Betty Ford were an illustrious addition to the impressive list of American presidents who have been animal lovers too. Their most famous pet was the golden retriever Liberty, whose full name was an impressive Honor’s Foxfire Liberty Hume. Liberty was born on February 8, 1974 and died in 1984.

Gerald Ford was the 38th president of the United States and to date; he remains the only one to have served without being elected as one. His tenure lasted from 1974 to 1977. The Fords had owned two golden retrievers before Liberty came into their lives. The manner in which Liberty became a part of America’s first family makes for interesting reading.

Susan Ford, the president’s daughter and White House photographer David Kennerly joined forces to bring the eight months old golden coated Liberty to the White House.  Susan Ford wished to keep the identity of the dog’s future pet parents a secret from the kennel owner. And the breeder, on her part, was anxious to know if the new owner had a house with enough open space and a regular job so that the dog got her exercise and enough to eat. Ultimately, Ms Ford and her partner had to reveal to Ann Friberg, for that was the breeder’s name, the identity of the buyer.  Ford never got tired of recounting this little incident to eager audiences and even touched upon it in his memoir – A Time to Heal.

The dog was originally named Streaker; it was given the name Liberty by Susan. Gerald immediately took to the female canine and by popular consensus of family members was appointed as caretaker of Liberty. The fully grown Liberty owned a beautiful dark gold coat, had dark brown eyes, and weighed 70 pounds. She measured 22 inches at the withers and had a tall body with an impressive presence.

Gerald Ford loved Liberty, of this there was no doubt. There were tales of how the president would dip his hand into his coat pocket for a match and it came out holding dog biscuits. Another endearing nugget was that if the president ever wanted a break from a monotonous discussion at the White House, he’d motion to Liberty who would then sashay to the visitor displaying all her female canine charms, wagging her tail, and that would give Ford a breather.

During Ford’s tenure, Liberty’s paw-tographs, her pics with a rubber stamp of her paw print, were in demand. Every day, the White House received letters by the dozen asking for an autographed photo of the president with his favorite pet. During her stay at the White House, Liberty had a litter. Of these, one pup Misty was adopted as a member of the family.

Along with Ronald Reagan’s pet dog Victory, Liberty is one of the only two golden retrievers that can lay claim to being a presidential pet.

Susan continues the Ford family legacy and reportedly has three golden retrievers.