There’s an old saying in U.S. politics: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”.  It’s a pithy way of explaining how quickly relationships can turn in the Capitol. But – if you think about it – the phrase also contains a pretty practical bit of advice for leaders. Throughout U.S. history, presidents have gotten great companionship from pets of all kind: Reagan owned a Golden Retriever called Victory, Clinton had a cat named Socks, and Teddy Roosevelt kept a hen he referred to as Barron Spreckle. Adams even owned an alligator for a small chunk of his presidency (it lived in one of the White House’s bathrooms).  Until last month, Bo and Sunny Obama were the First Dogs of the United States. Who will replace the two Portuguese water dogs after their move to the tony Washington neighborhood of Kalorama? No word yet from the Trump folks. The Trump family, as far as is publicly known, does not own any animals. Unless something changes, that means that Donald Trump could become the first president in 150 years who does not have a pet.  These zoological sidekicks are the focus of the Presidential Pet Museum. Based in Virginia, the organization is dedicated to preserving the legacy of nearly every critter to have lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The museum no longer has a physical premise, but there is still plenty to learn from its fascinating online galleries and blogs. You can read more about presidential pets and a few of their roles in their owners claim to fame here, at the Presidential Pet Museum website.

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