It’s been said for centuries: “A dog is a man’s best friend.”
Don’t get us wrong, cats, birds, reptiles, and other companions are great, but canines are still “top dog” when it comes to pets. With over 36% of households owning a dog, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pups are the number one pet choice in the United States. And dogs are so much more than cute faces, warm fur, and fun exercise partners.
Dogs have incredible qualities, like long-term memory, which keeps them in tune with their connections and allows them to learn from past experiences, like to never take food off the table again because they’ll get a newspaper to the snout. Ever-loyal, their short-term memory works in such a manner that they will not hold that newspaper swat against you because moments later they’ll be begging you to go play ball.
Dogs motivate you to get up and enjoy the little things in life, such as walks and a good laugh when they’re barking at their own tails. Best of all, they’re always by your side. Did your friends cancel plans? Is your family too busy? Your canine companion will be more than happy to spend time with you! Add in incredible instincts and a protective nature, and you can see why dogs are such beloved companions.
Not only that, dogs can be movie stars, caregivers, and heroes, going above and beyond to assist their humans. Here are some of our favorite stories that show why dogs are forever man’s best friend.
The Presidential Pooches
Regardless of your political affiliations, there are certain Oval Office residents that you can’t help but love: the presidential pooches.
To date, thirty-two U.S. presidents have owned at least one dog while in office. Even the first American president, George Washington, was a dog owner, with three American Staghounds and four Black and Tan Coonhounds.
Here are a few of the “First Dogs” who captured the hearts of America (check out a more detailed list here).
Veto, the hero dog. A name with real meaning, this Newfoundland was owned by James Garfield, the 20th U.S. president. He named the dog Veto to let Congress know that he might not be signing all of the bills it passed. But Veto was more than a message — he was a hero. He once barked nonstop to alert people that a barn was on fire and, on another occasion, he held the reins of a rampaging horse until help came.
Laddie Boy, the first celebrity dog. Owned by Warren G. Harding, the 29th president, Laddie Boy was an Airedale terrier who accompanied the first family everywhere. He joined the president on golf outings and even attended cabinet meetings, sitting in his own special chair. Because of this, Laddie Boy received an enormous amount of media coverage. There was an official portrait painted of him, and a life-sized sculpture of this special pup is part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History collection.
King Tut, the happiness dog. Herbert Hoover, the 31st president, had a less-than-optimal public image of being rather stiff, stern, and severe during his run for the presidency. That image was quickly softened when a photo was taken of him with his Belgian Shepherd, King Tut, who brought out a rare smile from the president. Hoover’s campaign officials had thousands of copies made of that photo and circulated them throughout the country, hoping the image would make Hoover appear more personable. The strategy worked – Hoover was elected president, and the New York Times wrote that it was “one of the happiest pictures ever made” of Hoover.
Fala, movie star and constant companion. Always with his beloved owner, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), the 32nd president, Fala was a black Scottish terrier who slept in a special chair at the end of FDR’s bed, accompanied him on trips of all kinds and by all modes of transportation, and met some very important people. His popularity was so huge that he actually received thousands of letters from people, and in 1942 a movie was made about his life. There were references made to Fala in some of the biggest media sources of the time, including the New York Times and Reader’s Digest. He’s also mentioned in several books about Roosevelt. A statue of Fala stands next to a statue of FDR in Washington, DC.