President Theodore Roosevelt had many horses and pets during his time in the White House. Some pets made the news frequently – like Bleistein, the favorite horse and Pete the biting Bull terrier – but some lived relatively quiet lives with their famous family.
Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay retriever joined the family on May 26th, 1902. He was one of the Presidential pets during the Roosevelts’ tenure and he was much admired by Roosevelt. In his autobiography, Roosevelt says of Sailor Boy:
“Much the most individual of the dogs and the one with the strongest character was Sailor Boy; a Chesapeake Bay dog. He had a masterful temper and a strong sense of both dignity and duty. He would never let the other dogs fight, and he himself never fought unless the circumstances imperatively demanded it; but he was a murderous animal when he did fight. He was not only exceedingly fond of the water, as was to be expected, but passionately devoted to gunpowder in every form, for he loved firearms and fairly reveled in the 4th of July celebrations – the latter being rather hazardous occasions, as the children strongly objected to any ‘safe and sane’ element being injected into them, and had the normal number of close shaves with rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers.”
In Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen, author Jacob August Riis states that Sailor Boy was “the happiest of the lot, a big, clumsy, but loyal fellow.”
Rumor has it that Sailor Boy was descended from General Custer’s Chesapeake Bay retrievers, but if so that lineage has been lost to history. Regardless of his bloodline it is clear that Sailor Boy was greatly loved by the Roosevelt family.