Saturday, May 2, 2009

Will Bo Get White House Holiday Treatment?

First ladies love their pets.  According to her Thursday speech at the Hilton before 2000 spouses of congress members, Supreme Court justices, cabinet secretaries and other family and friends, Michelle Obama made it clear she was doing the o'dark thirty Bo walking. Her kids are getting good grades and hitting the snooze alarm as Mrs. Obama learns a new parenting/puppy lesson. Another first lady who loved her dog Millie enough to take dictation, translating dog bark into a book and bequeathing one of the 1989 puppies to her son W, liked the immortalized and sculpture technique proudly displayed in the Bush White House beneath her ground floor portrait. One way to pay pet tributes is during the Holidays, but the East Wing Staff needs a lot of prep time to execute the theme flawlessly.  (White House photos courtesy Tina Hager)

Historic pet motifs arise out of past incidents, mischief or a loving theme to make interesting displays during the White House holiday season. Famed Pastry chef, Roland Mesnier created Socks, the cat, peeking from one of the White House windows in one of his exclusive gingerbread architectural wonders for a Clinton Christmas to showcase the White House.  There is Nelson, George Washington's beloved Revolutionary War steed prancing above a Christmas garland bedecked mantle in the East Room.  Calvin Coolidge of the Teapot Dome fiasco had a presidential pooch, Rob Roy with a proud lineage of sheep herding that turned into a quivering mass of NO when it came to riding the White House family elevator.  But the most famous of their pets were Rebecca and Reuben, the family raccoons.

Now is the time 2009 Christmas plans are drawn in further fine detail in the East Wing.  During the transition, First lady-to-be Michelle Obama received a thorough briefing of the traditions of the White House; Easter Egg Roll, Spring (April) & Fall (October) Garden Tours, the upcoming holiday season Thanksgiving through January 1, 2010. The themes are chosen well in advance for the holidays to allow artisans enough time to craft and get their work to the White House.  In 2003, Laura Bush chose to pay holiday homage to White House Pets, past and present.  Even though Mrs. Obama may choose another theme, somewhere Bo will show up either in a pastry or as a holiday ornament and maybe just maybe on the first official Obama White House greeting card.

Rob Roy on Ground Floor display. Woodrow Wilson's sheep depicted in East Room

Lafayette's gift of an alligator lived in the bathroom of John Quincy Adams East Room.  Liberty was famous for being President's Ford's favorite golden lounge lizard in the Oval Office. In the mid 1970's Liberty gave birth to presidential puppies. Theodore Roosevelt son's pony Algonquin was more fearless than Coolidge's Rob Roy by getting squashed into the elevator by another sibling undetected by White house staff to visit Archie.  The Roosevelts also had a colorful macaw.  In 1944, Cousin Franklin, was a wee bit absentminded and left Fala behind on some Aleutian island and you bet the president sent a Navy destroyer to go fetch his dog.  Him and Her, I am not sure whether to pity them or just admire their longevity alongside Yuki - a Texas gas station find by his daughter Luci.  When President Johnson lifted his pet Beagle, Him, up by the ears, America was horrified. 

President Warren Harding's dog, Laddie Boy held court in his own chair at cabinet meetings.  Senator Ted Kennedy and his wife Vicki gave Bo, the Portuguese Water Dog to the Obama family following a great White House tradition.  Checkers was a gift to Vice President Richard & Pat Nixon while Pushinka (Russian = fluffy) came to Caroline Kennedy courtesy of pound the kitchen table shoe guy and Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev.  Bo's antics will cause the White House's chefs to come up with something uniquely his for the holiday season.  The key is where will his icing and cake plaster likeness show up in a place of honor, Ground Floor, East Room or greeting guests for the holidays at the East Gate? 

(Photo Pete Souza/White House) White House Deputy Mosteller tries to save his latest shoeshine in Cabinet Room.


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