President Warren Harding and his wife Florence carried on the tradition of having pets in the White House during their time there. While they were unable to match the Coolidge’s menagerie (who could?), they did have 2 dogs, a squirrel named Pete, and canaries – including a Hartz canary named ‘Petey’ that the couple had stuffed by a taxidermist after he died in 1928.
The canaries belonged to Florence Harding, notable for her love of music and her stellar work in the newspaper industry, which at the time was primarily male-dominated. Her husband, Warren Harding, owned The Marion Daily Star and when the business manager quit, Florence moved into the role. She was responsible for keeping accounts, making editorial and coverage decisions and much more, earning the respect of many the male staff.
Petey, or Pete, the Harz Mountain canary lived with the Hardings during their time in the White House. Unfortunately, he died prematurely but he was so loved that the Hardings had him stuffed. Today Petey can be seen at Warren G. Harding’s Marion, Ohio home which has been opened to the public for tours. Another canary named Bob also lived with the couple, but upon the untimely death of President Harding Florence gave Bob to White House maid Maggie Rogers. Florence had to quickly and unexpectedly find new accommodations to make way for the new President and felt that Bob would do better with Rogers during this tumultuous time.
Most canaries belonging to the Hardings remain lost to history, but it is certain that they brought the President and First Lady great enjoyment and comfort.