AMONG the spate of recent headlines discussing the many vacancies at The White House, one position appears like it won’t be filled anytime soon—the first pet.
‘The first family is still getting settled so there are no plans at this time,’ a spokeswoman for First Lady Melania Trump told reporters earlier this week.
If U.S. President Donald Trump’s family forgoes having a pet in the White House, they would break a long history of presidential animal ownership.
The tradition has continued since George Washington himself owned horses, an array of hounds, and even parrots – with pets ranging from cows to provide the First Family with milk and butter, to the alligators owned by President Herbert Hoover’s second son Allan that often escaped their bathtub enclosure.
In a job that puts a person in constant scrutiny, a pet can often fill the role of comforter-in-chief to the president and his family. Harry Truman, who was gifted with a cocker spaniel named Feller, has often been quoted as saying ‘if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog’.
The most recent first pets, Obama family dogs Bo and Sunny, have been even satirized on late night talk shows and the pair of Portuguese water dogs left their posts with high popularity, despite Bo’s occasional tendency to steal the spotlight.
While the position for first pet remains empty for now, the family of Trump’s second-in-command has not followed their example. Last month, Vice President Mike Pence adopted a puppy named Harley, while his wife and daughter picked out a kitten named Hazel. They joined the Pence’s two other pets, a cat named Pickle and a rabbit named Marlon Bundo.