September 11, 2015 | Posted in 1st Doggies
President Ronald Reagan and the First Lady, Nancy, had previously had a dog in the White House – Lucky. But Lucky got to be too large and rambunctious to live with the couple in the stately home, so he was moved to their retreat – the ranch in California that they called Rancho del Cielo.
But the Reagans missed having a dog in the White House, so in 1985, President Reagan presented a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy to Nancy as an early Christmas present. They named him Rex. Rex and his brother Fred had belonged to political commentator William F. Buckley, a friend of the Reagans. Buckley kept Fred and gave Rex to the President.
Rex soon had a duty as First Dog – with his parents, he helped throw the switch to light the National Christmas Tree. He was often seen running to greet President and Mrs. Reagan when they returned to the White House lawn by helicopter, pulling at the leash to rush inside their “home.” It was suggested that they hire a trainer to calm him down because it might not be appropriate to see the couple being pulled along by the little dog. The President said Rex was still young and as excited to see them as they were to see him. “He believes Marine 1 is his personal dog basket!”, Reagan said of the helicopter, since Rex had flown with them on occasion.
Rex made news when he seemed to confirm rumors that the White House, and in particular the Lincoln bedroom, was haunted. He often passed the room, but stood at the door barking at something unseen, and refused to enter the room. The theory was that Rex was able to see ghosts – perhaps that of President Lincoln himself.
The Cavalier King Charles became a highly sought-after breed after Rex came into the Reagan’s life. When the President and First Lady (and Rex) left the White House at the end of Reagan’s term, Rex was given a dog house shaped like the White House. It had carpet inside taken from Camp David. Rex lived out his life with the Reagans and Lucky at Rancho del Cielo, passing away at 13 years old. He and Lucky are both buried on the ranch grounds.