LBJ’s most famous dogs were two beagles. Him and Her were born in June of 1963, and were destined to be the best-known pets of Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president of the United States (1963-69). The Johnsons were frequently photographed with the dogs. One notable photograph shows the President “howling” with one of the beagles. Another famous photograph made a big stir for the White House.
President Johnson was taking a break outside at the White House with a task force of 13 gentlemen who were meeting to discuss ways to encourage more foreign investment in the United States. The dogs were walking along with the group when the President decided to encourage Him to bark; he lifted the dog to his haunches by pulling up on his ears.
No one with the group that day seemed to think much about the occurrence, but the moment was snapped by a photographer, and the photograph of the “ear lift” was published in Life magazine. The reaction from the public was immediate, and the White House was flooded with telegrams, phone calls, and letters.
Experts weighed in. An official at the American Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals was quoted as saying, “If someone picked you up by the ears, you’d yelp, too.” And beagle experts noted that it was indeed common practice in hunt country “to tug the dogs’ ears to be sure they are in good voice.”
But Lyndon Johnson soon found that the only way out of the mess was to say he was sorry. He apologized publicly but later told reporters in an aside that “he had been pulling Him’s ears since he was a pup, and ‘he seemed to like it.’”
Him was bred with another beagle in 1965, and two of that litter, Freckles and Kim, were given to Luci Johnson to keep as pets. After Luci’s marriage to Patrick Nugent and subsequent move out of the White House, one beagle, Kim, went to live with the Nugents but Freckles remained at the White House.
Both Him and Her died at young ages. Her swallowed a stone in 1964 and died from it; Him was hit by a car in 1966 when he was chasing a squirrel across the White House property.
Other LBJ Dogs in the White House
After Him died, J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, presented Johnson with another beagle. The President named the dog J. Edgar but soon shortened it to Edgar. When Johnson left the White House, Edgar accompanied the Johnson’s to the LBJ Ranch.
Blanco was another dog who lived with the Johnsons at the White House. He was a white collie given to the president in December of 1963 as a gift from a little girl in Illinois. Before moving back to Texas, the Johnsons gave Blanco to a doctor and his wife in Kentucky.
Yuki was a mutt found by Luci Nugent at a gas station in Texas in 1966. Yuki (the name means snow) was adopted by Luci, but after LBJ met Yuki, it became clear that they were meant for each other. Luci presented Yuki to her father for his birthday in 1967. Yuki remained with the Johnsons until after Lyndon’s death in 1973; Yuki spent her final years with Luci and her family.