President William Taft and his wife Helen (also known as Nellie) had a couple of famous pets; Pauline and Mooly Wooly, both cows. But they also had a family dog, who belonged to their daughter, Helen.
Caruso was reportedly a small, white dog who was gifted to Helen by famed opera singer Enrico Caruso. When Caruso (the singer) came to the White House to perform for the Tafts, he thought that perhaps cows weren’t a terribly fun pet for a little girl, so he brought along the little dog as a present for the President’s daughter, Helen. Helen happily accepted the gift and promptly named her new pet Caruso. Enrico would go on to perform many more times, and at one point performed in memory of those lost on the Titanic.
According to Mo Rocca in All the President’s Pets: The Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over, Caruso had a bark that was “like a high pitch tenor” and “howled La Traviata,” so it seems this dog was aptly named. It is unknown what happened to Caruso after the Tafts’ Presidency. Likely he moved quietly on with his young mistress to their post-White House home and lived out the remainder of his life.
The Tafts did have another dog; one that came with them to the White House. However, sadly, the dog’s name and antics have been lost to history.