The Dogs of Herbert Hoover
The 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) and his wife, Lou, both loved dogs. As it happens, a dog helped Herbert Hoover get elected in 1928.
The dog in question, a German shepherd named King Tut, was acquired by Hoover when Hoover was in Belgium on assignment for President Wilson, running a war relief organization for Europe after the first world war. Hoover adopted his “police dog,” as they were commonly known, while overseas, and he brought King Tut back to America.
With a stellar record for his service as a wartime food administrator, Hoover was a logical pick to be the presidential candidate in 1928. However even then political handlers existed, and they knew that in order for the very serious and very private Herbert Hoover to be elected, he needed to be presented to the public in a lovable and relatable way.
The solution? Play up Hoover’s natural affection for King Tut. A photograph was taken of a smiling Hoover with King Tut’s paws in his hands as if Hoover were vote-begging. Adorned with Hoover’s signature, the photo was mailed out to voters across the United States. It worked.
Other Hoover Dogs in the White House
While King Tut was Hoover’s favorite, the White House was filled with dogs during the Hoovers’ time there. There were two fox terriers named Big Ben and Sonnie, a Scotch collie named Glen, a Malamut called Yukon, a setter named Eaglehurst Gillette, another German shepherd, Pat, and Weejie, the elkhound.
In addition, once they were in the White House Lou Hoover received a dog as a gift. A classmate of Lou’s raised Irish wolfhounds—a very unusual breed for America at the time—and the breeder presented to Lou a dog whose pedigree name was Cragwood Padraic, called Patrick by the Hoovers.
The White House did not bring happiness to the Hoovers or to King Tut. King Tut took as his responsibility full-time guarding of the president. In addition to patrolling the perimeter of 16oo Pennsylvania Avenue, King Tut was watchful over all visitors to the White House, and the strain proved to be too much for him. He quit eating, so Hoover sent him to a quiet home, hoping he would recover. Unfortunately, Tut’s health failed to improve, and he died.
By this time the stock market had crashed and Hoover did not release the news about Tut, knowing that with the pain of the economic devastation people were facing, news about a dog having died would not be helpful to the perception of the first family.
In 1932, Hoover ran again for president, without Tut, but was resoundingly defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who brought other dogs—and eventually better news–to the White House.