President William Taft was the 27th United States Commander-in-Chief. During his tenure in the White House, this President was noted for his rather quirky choice of pets – cows. While Taft did have a dog, he also had 2 cows that are regularly listed as his pets, Mooly Wooly and Pauline.
Mooly Wooly came to the White House with Taft, his wife Helen (known to some as “Nellie”), and their children when they took over the Presidency. As there were no ordinances preventing it at the time, Mooly Wooly could often be seen grazing peacefully on the South Lawn.
Nellie Taft was looking to “get the first family out of the horse-and-buggy era,” according to Molly Meijer Wertheimer in Inventing a Voice: The Rhetoric of American First Ladies of the Twentieth Century. When Nellie found the prices for new automobiles to be unreasonable, she bargained by allowing the vehicle manufacturers to advertise at the White House. But troubled by the expense, she looked for other ways to save, and adding a cow was part of that savings plan. This way, Mooly Wooly’s milk and butter could be used at the White House for the Taft family.
However, rumor has it that Mooly Wooly was a bit shy about her milk production and that the volume that she produced was never quite enough to satisfy the needs of the family. With Taft weighing in at around 350 pounds, this is probably not surprising.
Some sources report that Pauline the cow was brought in to replace Mooly Wooly, but others say that Mooly Wooly unfortunately died from eating too many oats. “Two years earlier, in 1910, Taft’s previous cow, Mooly Wooly, died after eating too many oats. “She had never been instructed by experts that oats are for horses,” The Washington Evening Star explained to grief-stricken readers.” Poor Mooly Wooly!