The pets of the powerful hold a certain fascination for us. Here’s a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly (and their pets).
- Margaret Thatcher’s Cat Humphrey
Humphrey wandered into 10 Downing Street one day in 1988, and he must have liked it, because he decided to stay. He adopted the Thatchers, and then tolerated the Majors, but when the Labour Party won a General Election, he decided he didn’t like them much, so he wandered off again. Despite an intrepid Daily Telegraph journalist requesting a Freedom of Information Act disclosure on Humphrey, his current whereabouts remain unclear.
- Barack Obama’s Portuguese Water Hound Bo
Bo is the much-loved Obama family pet, and was only acquired after the President had gained office, and is named after the late singer Bo Diddley. Bo is, to our knowledge, the only dog in the world on a baseball card, which you can actually get a copy of if you send a stamped addressed envelope to the White House!
- Ramses II’s Lion
Ramses II of ancient Egypt kept his pet lion for both work and play: as well as being a full-time palace resident, the Lion went with Ramses in battle. The lion was a loyal pet, and on one notable occasion, when Ramses’ camp was almost overrun by enemies, the Lion stayed behind in order to fight the king’s enemies when everyone else retreated!
- Josephine Bonaparte’s Orangutan
The wife of Napoleon treasured her pet female Orangutan, which was even a regular diner at her table! Apparently, she ate mainly turnips, was fond of pooches, and was always dressed in a white frock – endearingly, she was always very well behaved too!
- George W Bush’s Scottish Terrier Barney
The previous ‘First Dog’, Barney, hailed from New Jersey, and enjoyed watching the then President play games of horseshoes. He appeared in Presidential White House addresses during the Christmas period, and was much loved. Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, however, was not a fan, controversially stating that he felt Barney wasn’t macho enough to be the pet of a world leader.
- Vladimir Putin’s Black Labrador Retriever Koni
Originally destined for training as a Search and Rescue Dog, Koni was gifted to President Putin by Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations. She gave birth to eight puppies on an important election day in 2003. Putin has been reported as saying that he occasionally discusses matters of state with Koni.
- Franklin D Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier Fala
Fala was quite the politician: he was a constant companion of FDR, attending public events and private White House meetings; Fala was potentially privy to every American secret of World War Two. Fala was awarded the rank of Private in the U.S. Army, and as far as we know is the only dog to have achieved this accolade.
- Larry and Freya, Current Downing Street Cats
Larry, the Downing Street Cat, is resident at 10 Downing street, and has been the mouser-in-chief for Westminster since just before the end of the last Labour Government. He’s a tough cookie, having been obtained from the Battersea Dog and Cat Home. Freya is a resident of No. 11 Downing Street, H.M. Treasury. Both cats are considered to be an ecologically sound method of pest-control when it comes to battling the mouse problem in Downing Street. They hit the headlines late last year when a quick-witted photographer snapped them having a brawl in the middle of the night. Larry was ordered inside No. 10 by a police officer, leaving Freya free to gloat outside. Another small victory for the Treasury.
- Pope Leo X’s White Elephant, Hanno
In 1514, the King of Portugal sent Pope Leo X a rare Asiatic white elephant. Hanno was a cosmopolitan fellow, and apparently understood both Indian and Portuguese. He fell ill just three years after his arrival in Rome, and sadly passed away after being given a remedy containing grains of gold.
- Emperor Nero’s Tigress Phoebe
Nero saw Phoebe fight gladiators in the Colosseum in ancient Rome, and was instantly smitten with her! It is said that he adored her fierceness and her passion for life. The troubled Nero kept Phoebe in a cage made of gold, and she was often let out to dine with him during banquets.
This list has left us wondering whether pets become like their owners, or if the owners become like their pets?
Featured Image credit – Barack Obama and his dog from Wikimedia Commons