Such is the case of Lyndon B Johnson's pet Beagles, which he cleverly named Him and Her. LBJ was a volatile President serving his term during volatile times in America - the turbulent 1960's. He had many issues to deal with - Vietnam, Civil Rights, the assassinations of both Robert Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Coping with the divisive issues of the day, is it any wonder that Johnson found comfort wherever he could? His pet Beagles were a source of such comfort for the President. Him and Her were brother and sister, the most well known of Johnson's pets. Johnson was an avid dog lover, and Him and Her were born June 27, 1963. It was not uncommon for Johnson to take the dogs for walks in the White House lawn while speaking to the press. On one such occasion, Lyndon Johnson overstepped his bounds with the dogs, and with dog lovers across the country.
It was 1964 when Lyndon Johnson was photographed by the press picking Him up by the ears. He was talking to a group of bankers at the time. The pictures of the President lifting the dog up by the ears ran on the front pages of newspapers across the nation and much of the American public was not amused. Particularly animal rights activists, who protested the President's behavior, and Johnson was forced to defend his actions. He clearly didn't understand what all the fuss was about. He called what he did "good for them" and claimed that he only did it to make them bark. Others thought the public's reaction was "all bark and no bite." According to an article by Anne Emig, "Presidential Pets of the Past," former President Harry Truman didn't understand the fuss either. He is said to remark, "What the hell are the critics complaining about; that's how you handle hounds."
LBJ didn't pay a political price for his alleged mishandling of his dogs but the Presidential Pet Scandal taught us that a President's relationship with others is always scrutinized. Even if the relationship in question is between him and his four legged advisers, it's important to treat all living creatures with respect. After all, you can tell a lot about a person based on the way they treat their pets.
Published by Jenny Corvette
Jenny Corvette lives in Southwestern lower Michigan. She has a BA in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She minored in both Political Science and Philosophy. She has nearly 15 years experience as... View profile
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