September 11, 2015 | Posted in 1st Doggies

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30th President of the United States (Calvin Coolidge in 1923)

The 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, and his First Lady Grace, had quite a menagerie living with them when Coolidge assumed office after President Harding’s passing in 1923. There were birds, cats, raccoons, several exotic animals, and dogs – lots of dogs.

The President had grown up on a farm and it seemed perfectly natural to him to be surrounded by animals. Dogs were a particular favorite of his. During his time in office, a few of the White House dogs included Peter Pan, a fox terrier and the first of the dogs to move into the White House, Beans, a Boston bulldog, King Cole and Calamity Jane (sheepdogs), Laddie Buck, an Airedale, Bessie, a collie, Palo Alto, a bird dog, Blackberry and Tiny Tim (Chows), and Paul Pry, supposedly related to President Harding’s beloved dog Laddie Boy.

But the two dogs who seemed to claim more affection than the others, and who certainly claimed more attention in the media, were two white collies – Rob Roy and Prudence Prim. Rob Roy often went on fishing trips with the President. He wrote of the dog that “He was a stately companion of great courage and fidelity.” In the afternoons, Rob Roy could often be found in the President’s office, and at night, he slept with him. Rob Roy is forever immortalized in a painting with First Lady Grace Coolidge (who wore a red dress) that in later days so charmed First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy that she ordered it be taken out of storage and moved to the White House Red Room.

Prudence Prim was another pampered favorite. She ate breakfast cereal with the President each morning and often slept with Grace Coolidge. She also greeted guests and then attended the tea parties the First Lady frequently hosted. Mrs. Coolidge often took short trips to make speeches and took Prudence Prim or other dogs with her and in fact, in a 1929 recorded newsreel promoting fundraising stamps to fight tuberculosis, a dog can be heard barking near her.

The first official family portrait of the Coolidges was taken at the White House in 1924, and featured Rob Roy regally posing with the President and First Lady and their sons Cal Jr. and John. This was the first time a dog had been allowed in a Presidential formal photo. (Sadly, just a week after the photo was taken, son Cal passed away from blood poisoning).

Coolidge once said, “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House.” If that statement is indeed true, Coolidge was more than deserving of the Presidency!