The Pets of Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)
Woodrow Wilson who served as president from 1913-1921 grew up in Virginia with a beloved greyhound named Mountain Boy.
He and his first wife, Ellen Axson (1860-1914), had three daughters but Ellen died of a kidney ailment during Woodrow Wilson’s first year in the White House. Her illness may partially explain why the Wilsons did not have a dog at that time.
A cat named Puffins was part of the household, and shortly after settling in at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Wilsons added chickens and a herd of sheep. Wilson felt the sheep were the most economical way to keep the grass trimmed. There was also a ram named Old Ike.
In 1915 Wilson married again (Edith Boling Galt). Toward the end of his term of office he was given a bull terrier named Bruce.
Another Bull Terrier Figured Prominently
President Wilson was the commander-in-chief on hand to welcome home all those who fought during World War I. Among those who visited the White House was another bull terrier, Sergeant Stubby, who served as a mascot in the U.S. Army but also proved the worth of having dogs embedded with units. He provided early warnings on incoming shells as well as gas attacks, and one night he found and attacked a German infiltrating the American line.
While Wilson’s life did not include many dogs, he certainly knew the heart of a dog. He was known to have said: “If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”