The president fills many roles: a leader for the nation, America’s liaison to the world, and in many cases, the guy who ensures that heartworm pills have been taken and belly rubs have been administered. As long as there have been U.S. presidents in office, there have been famous pets living in the White House, too.
“Being the leader of the free world is likely a pretty stressful job. A dog or cat knows nothing of politics, and is a reminder of the simple life. Throwing a ball with a dog, or playing hunting games with a cat, is a brief escape from the pressures of the job,” says Dr. Liz Bales, VMD, founder of Doc and Phoebe’s Cat Co.
“The bond between people and their pets may have many health benefits, including increasing fitness, and lowering stress, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. There are emotional benefits too, like decreasing feelings of loneliness and just plain making their person happy—and presidents are no exception. When the going gets tough, a dog or cat will always be a best friend.”
Herein, we’ve rounded up all these best friends who’ve taken up residence in the White House alongside their famous owners. From cats and dogs to raccoons and horses—and even, on one occasion, a one-legged rooster—it’s quite an animal farm.