President Lyndon Johnson’s favorite dog was a terrier mix named Yuki. LBJ’s daughter, Luci, found Yuki at a gas station in Texas on Thanksgiving Day 1966.
Yuki, which means “snow “in Japanese, and LBJ hit it off right from the start, and Luci officially gave the little dog to her father for his birthday in 1967. (President Johnson at that time also had beagles Edgar and Freckles.)
Sleeping in the President’s Bedroom
According to Stanley Coren in his book Why We Love the Dogs We Do: How to Find the Dog That Matches Your Personality, Johnson often asked Traphes Bryant, the White House kennel keeper, to bring one or two of his dogs to the presidential bedroom at night.
Coren reports that one night after such a call, Bryant appeared at the door with Yuki. LBJ reportedly took the dog, saying, “You know there is no one in the world I would rather sleep with than Yuki.”
Bryant either did not hear or at least did not disclose the First Lady’s reply.
LBJ and Yuki Were Almost Inseparable
The president took Yuki with him to cabinet meetings and to the Oval Office, and they even swam together in the swimming pool.
LBJ danced with Yuki at his daughter Lynda’s wedding. The First Lady intervened, however, when the president wanted to include Yuki in the family wedding photos.
Yuki also enjoyed “singing” with the president. A 1968 photo shows Yuki and LBJ both howling with their noses up in the air to the amusement of Ambassador David Bruce.
“He is the friendliest and the smartest and the most constant in his attentions of all the dogs that I’ve known,” Johnson said.
“A White Mutt”
Lyndon Nugent, the president’s grandson, wrote: “LBJ’s favorite dog was a rescue named Yuki, a white mutt who had been abandoned by his owner in a gas station in LBJ’s hometown of Johnson City, Texas. They shared a very significant bond that personified the American spirit: Only in American could a poor boy from Johnson City end up in the White House.”
Johnson himself joked about Yuki (at least we think it was a joke): “We had always thought maybe he was with a circus [in his life before the Johnsons found him by the road] because he was so well-trained.”
“Now You Want My Dog!”
President Johnson, who did not run for re-election, met with Richard Nixon to discuss the Vietnam War soon after Nixon secured the Republican nomination for president. As Nixon was boarding a helicopter after the meeting, Yuki followed Nixon aboard. Johnson said, “Look, you’ve got my helicopter, you’re after my job, and now you want my dog!”
Nixon later recalled that the two men laughed about the incident and that Nixon said to LBJ: “I told you I wanted your job, not your dog.”
Life After the White House
When Johnson left office on January 20, 1969, Yuki flew with him on Air Force One to the LBJ Ranch.
The little dog reportedly was by Johnson’s side when the former president died in January 1973. After Johnson’s death, Yuki went to live with Luci Johnson Nugent and her family.
Yuki died in 1979 at around 13-14 years old.
In this video, Johnson talks about how he got Yuki — and you can hear Yuki singing: