LBJ loved dogs — and by all accounts, they loved him.
After Lyndon B. Johnson moved into the White House in December 1963, he had the White House doghouse redesigned and enlarged to the point that the press corps dubbed it “a palace.”
Largely thanks to photographs in Life magazine in 1964 — including a colorful cover portrait and an unfortunate ear-pulling one inside — Johnson’s beagles, Him and Her, became national celebrities.
Hundreds of phone calls, telegrams, and letters came in from angry dog lovers. “If someone picked you up by the ears, you’d yelp, too,” an ASPCA spokesman said.
Although he was amazed at how big the controversy became, LBJ eventually issued a public apology. The often outspoken president however, made this aside to reporters after his apology: “I’ve been pulling Him’s ears since he was a pup, and he seemed to like it.”
The 1964 Life article pointed out that the dogs were treated very well: “Whether or not they approve of the President’s way of demonstrating his affection, [the dogs] probably wouldn’t swap places with any other dogs in the world. Not many dogs have been privileged to shoo birds off the White House lawn, get underfoot at a Cabinet meeting, or mingle with dignitaries at a state ball.”
Him and Her were indeed frequent sights in the LBJ White House, whether they were riding along in the president’s car, snoozing in the Oval Office, or swimming in the White House pool.
Johnson included the pair in his visits with heads of states, even though Him once peed in a chair during a formal tea party.
Whatever Happened to LBJ’s Beagles?
Both dogs were born on June 27, 1963. Then–Vice President Johnson, who was apparently terrible at naming dogs, had a dog named Beagle that was the father of Him and Her.
Him was bred with another beagle in 1965, and two of that litter, Freckles and Kim, were given to the president’s daughter, Luci, to keep as pets. After her marriage, Luci took Kim with her to her new home, but Freckles remained at the White House.
Sadly, both Him and Her died at a young age. Her died after swallowing a stone in 1964, and Him was hit and killed by a car when he was chasing a squirrel across the White House property in 1966.
The beagles had two partners in crime at the White House, however: Blanco, a pure-white collie, and Yuki, a personable white mutt.
After Him and Her died, FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover gave Johnson another beagle, which the president named J. Edgar — later shortened to Edgar — in the giver’s honor.
“Any man who felt about dogs the way [Johnson] did would have won me over,” noted Traphes Bryant, author of Dog Days at the White House: The Outrageous Memoirs of the Presidential Kennel Keeper (affiliate link).
Mikey Kramer says
Johnson picked Him up by the ears on April 27, 1964. Not during the photo session with life which was later in june of that year. :))
Presidential Pet Museum says
Thanks for the correction!
Virginia Bennett says
reI had the honor, of owning one of President Johnson’s Beagle descendant’s. My Dad Morris Davis and Mom Gloria Thomas Davis, knew Edith and Johnnie La Cook. They were friend’s for many year’s.Johnnie’s sister name unknown, knew and were very good friend’s with the Johnson Family.One of the litter’s maybe their daughters dog’s, Johnnie’s sister got a female. They named her Charmin, she was beautiful black light brown and white, very good natured. She had her first litter of puppies about 1966-67. I believe 66, just before my 10th Birthday.I feel in Lovewith a Boy, he was light with light brown spot’s, absolutely beautiful Instantly feel in Love with him. When we went to Rosebud Tx to visit, they could’nt keep me away. Well, on the night of my Bithday, we took a trip to Rosebud to visit and I ran to get the Pup. Reached in, but he was’nt there! I ran around asking about him, and found they had given him away.I thought, oh man,I was past upset, and spent my Birthday crying. Late that night, sometime around midnight we headed home.I laid down on the seat, laid my head in their lap. Could’nt sleep a wink, just thought about the Pup, and cried. All of a sudden, I felt a wiggle, and heard a whine, Dad said get up. To my amazement, surprise, happiness all rolled into one, there lay my Pup! Dad said, Happy Birthday, and boy was it.The happiest one ever. I named him Brownie, we spent many happy day’s together. A very happy, and playful dog, best ever.One day, I went outside, and could’nt find him anywhere.Day’s went by, no Brownie.He had dug out under the fence, we lived at 1206 South 43rd Temple Tx.A few day’s later, he crawled back under the fence, as I walked outside. We ran to each other, as fast as we could.I hugged him, he licked my face, we were very happy seeing each other. Well, many week’s went by, and next thing I know, he dug out again. I sat on tge back porch for hours on end watching and waiting for him. I put my head in my hand’s and started crying.Then, I heard a bark, looked up and he was walking up and down our fence line between our house, and the Rose family home.IS got up ran over to the fence, and he took off barking. I started running for the back gate, when IT’S heard him getting closer, and stopped to look. Here he came, barking like crazy, and running back and forth.Next thing I know, he disappear’s for a second, then come’s back.He had a line of Pup’s behind him, with Mama bringing up the rear. He litterally paraded them back and forth past the fence. Then, I knew where my Pup had been. A very Happy, and Proud Dad.In a while, they disappeared down the Alley. In about an hour or so, here he was, climbing back under the fence, for the night. So, from then on, I knew, where my Pup was. His heart torn between two places, but now that I’m older, I know who his heart truly belonged too.
Presidential Pet Museum says
Aww, how sweet. Thank you for sharing your story.
Virginia Bennett says
When Brownie came by to show off his Pup’s, their Mom was a Beagle too. What are the chance’s of that happening? Who’d figure. Somewhere in Temple, there are descendant’s of President Johnson’s Dog’s gggrand dog’s.