Although Millie may have gotten more attention during the administration of George H.W. Bush, her puppy Ranger became the president’s favorite dog.
In a poke at himself, the press and the popularity of Millie, President Bush remarked at a press conference in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1990 following a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney:
“The other day our dog Ranger appeared at a press conference, and he was called Millie [by reporters]. He’s a strong male dog here, as you can see, and his feelings were slightly hurt.”
Named in honor of the Texas Rangers baseball team, Ranger, a brown and white English springer spaniel, was the only male from Millie’s celebrated White House litter.
Ranger and Bush Were Close
Ranger and the president were said to have bonded almost immediately. First Lady Barbara Bush has even commented that George Bush and Ranger showered together, at least once anyway.
Although the Bushes at first gave the puppy to granddaughter Marshall Bush, then 4, who lived nearby in Washington, D.C., the president called to invite Ranger to accompany him to Camp David for a weekend trip. When Bush suggested that Ranger arrive on Thursday for a Friday departure, the family decided maybe the pup should move back into the White House.
At Camp David, when he wasn’t chasing deer or following his mom Millie around, Ranger was at the president’s side. Barbara Bush described Ranger as a “big, bouncy, puppy. He could leap straight up into the air and his handsome face made us laugh…. He loved to curl up by George’s side and was everything in a dog George wanted.”
Apparently, Ranger was such a gregarious pooch that many members of the White House staff would give him treats. Mrs. Bush recalled: “Ranger made so many friends that we suddenly noticed that he was growing by leaps and bounds — out, not up — and George had to send out a memo requesting people not feed Ranger.”
Squirrels Were on High Alert
The rambunctious Ranger was said to have “terrorized the squirrels” at the White House.
Reflecting on his favorite dog, Bush said: “One day when we were in the Oval Office, and we were having a big, serious meeting about some big, serious problem…. I look up, and there’s Ranger, our dog — the squirrel’s tail coming out of one side of this mouth, his head out of the other side.”
Bush joked: “[President Ronald] Reagan used to feed the squirrels, and our dogs ate them!”
“Nothing Matched This Special Place”
After the Bushes left the White House, Ranger was a familiar sight as he accompanied the former president during early morning walks in Houston. Sadly, the Bushes had Ranger, just 4 years old, put to sleep after he was diagnosed with cancer in 1994.
“The pleasure George got from his dog Ranger taking flying leaps over imaginary logs cannot be described…. We have always lived in happy houses, but nothing matched this special place,” Barbara Bush recalled of the White House.
Another of Millie’s puppies, Spot, went on to live in the White House — during George W. Bush‘s administration.