Former Presidents Would Tell President Trump: “You Want a Friend, Get a Dog.”

The Obamas with their White
House dogs Sunny and Bo.

President Harry Truman often has been quoted as saying, “If you need a friend in life, get a dog”—both George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton liked to quote it.

Almost every president before Donald Trump has understood how a dog can humanize the White House. President Obama was often pictured on the White House lawn with his daughters and Bo, the family’s Portuguese water dog.

President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara had their beloved Millie, a Springer Spaniel. President Clinton had Buddy, a chocolate-colored Labrador Retriever. President George W. Bush had Barney, a lovable Scottish Terrier.

President Richard Nixon, as calculating a politician as Washington has ever seen, had King Timahoe, an Irish setter. What kind of coverage did he get? NBC News on January 9, 1974, featured King Timahoe sneaking a piece of the cake during a surprise party for Nixon’s 61st birthday.

Another plus: An affectionate, well-behaved dog often can calm people who are easily agitated.
At a meeting of the American Society of Magazine Editors, we once were advised, “If you need a friend, get a dog,” making the point that you should have no friends when you’re working as an editor.  You’re there to serve the reader and not to please writers, the publisher, or anyone else.


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