Today in 1865, the birthday of Warren Harding, 29th president of the United States.
Harding’s presidency was full of scandals, many of them at the hands of his so-called friends.
If only those friends had been as good to Harding as his dogs had been.
Harding was from central Ohio, and his life’s dream was to run his hometown newspaper, the Marion Star.
When he got that job, and he brought his dog named Hub to the office with him most days.
Harding even wrote an obituary in the paper for the dog when it passed away.
Later, after he’d been elected president of the United States, he said that obit was the best thing he’d ever written.
“Whether the Creator planned it so, or environment and human companionship have made it so, men learn richly through the love and fidelity of a brave and devoted dog,” Harding wrote. “Such loyalty might easily add lustre to a crown of immortality.”
At the White House, Harding had several more dogs.
One of them, named Laddie Boy, was the first famous presidential pet.
Harding interrupted a Cabinet meeting to introduce the dog when he first came to the White House, and he wrote letters to the papers in the dog’s voice.
The papers didn’t need help writing about Laddie Boy, though, as they were already putting the adorable pup in the paper constantly.
All that changed in August 1923.
President Harding was on a cross-country tour to try to rally public support in the wake of some of those scandals caused by his associates, when he died in San Francisco, likely of a heart attack.
The Associated Press wrote about how poor Laddie Boy was at home at the White House, waiting for Harding to return.
Every time a car pulled up, they wrote, the dog would get excited… only to be disappointed when Harding didn’t get out of the vehicle.
So songwriter Edna Bell Seward wrote a tune trying to explain to the dog that the president wouldn’t be coming back to the White House, called “Laddie Boy, He’s Gone.”
The dog went on to live in Massachusetts with one of Harding’s Secret Service agents.
Newspaper delivery boys raised money for a Laddie Boy statue, which is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
Harding’s never had a great reputation among historians, but then the ones who do the rankings are all humans.
If dogs ranked the presidents, maybe they’d put Harding higher up?
November is the month when we learn the latest winner of the Diagram Prize, which is an award given out to the oddest title of a book each year.
Since we’re talking about dogs today, I thought I’d mention the winner of the prize in 2020 was a book called “A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path: Animal Metaphors in Eastern Indonesian Society.”
Now there’s an image to take out into the world with you today.
Good Boy (Futility Closet)
Photo by National Photo Co., via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division