There are pets in the White House again, two German shepherds named Champ and Major.
There have been a lot of dogs and cats in the president’s house over the years, as well as some less traditional pets.
Thomas Jefferson briefly had bear cubs, Martin Van Buren had pet tigers, and John Quincy Adams kept an alligator in a bathroom!
But those were mostly short-term pets that only stayed at the White House until they could be taken to more permanent homes.
But about a hundred years ago, the White House was home to a pet raccoon, for over two years.
Her name was Rebecca, and she was not intended to be a pet at first.
Some supporters from Mississippi sent her to the White House in November 1926 so that she could be Thanksgiving dinner for President Calvin Coolidge and his family.
Coolidge was reportedly not thrilled by the prospects of a raccoon feast, so he spared the creature.
But he and First Lady Grace Coolidge were also known for taking in dogs and birds, among other creatures, so they decided, why not have a pet raccoon too?
The president took her for walks on a leash around the White House grounds, and brought her into the building regularly too.
They said her favorite indoor activity was playing with a bar of soap in the bathtub, but Rebecca was better known for tearing up White House furniture whenever she could.
Eventually Rebecca got her own house outdoors, where she gave the security people headaches by escaping whenever she could.
And yet, the Coolidges seemed to like having the pet raccoon around.
She traveled with the family when they were away from Washington, and they even brought Rebecca to public events like the annual White House Easter Egg roll, even if she did have to be taken away ahead of schedule so she didn’t get too agitated and claw at any of the guests.
For a little while Rebecca had a raccoon companion, Reuben, though the two apparently didn’t get along.
He eventually just wandered away from the White House, out of public life for good, and Rebecca ended up at what it now the National Zoo in Washington when Coolidge’s term was up, the last presidential raccoon in U.S. history.
January is when so many of us try to boost our exercising and watch what we eat a little more.
A company in the UK just created a world record protein bar that’s over five feet long, two feet wide and weighs over 526 pounds.
Do you eat that to refuel after an ultramarathon, maybe?
When Rebecca the Raccoon Ruled the White House (Library of Congress)
Calvin Coolidge’s Reuben (Presidential Pet Museum)
Grace Coolidge with Rebecca Raccoon. (Harris & Ewing photograph collection at Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)