Do You Know That In 1926 It Was A Raccoon That Became A Presidential Pet?

Many a presidential pet has come and gone through the White House over the years but none so strange as the unusual critter that became President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Coolidge well-loved fury companion.

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While most people look forward to a nice turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, the president instead received a raccoon. The poor creature was to be slaughtered and served for dinner. The well-intended gift from Mississippi did not appeal to the president but instead of sending it away it instantly became a much loved pet. This all took place late November 1926.

While this might seem most bizarre, the president and his wife were well know animal lovers and often received pets from all over the world. Over and above their many dogs, cats and canaries, the Coolidges also received a pygmy hippopotamus, a pair of lion cubs and a black-haired bear, leading the media to call the White House the “Pennsylvania Avenue Zoo,”.

That’s putting it mildly I would say. Not the most well behaved pet, the racoon would drive staff crazy clawing at the furniture, tearing up clothing and constantly escaping from wherever they tried to contain it. Eventually a tree house was built for the racoon on the lawns outside the president’s office. The pet was soon named Rebecca and sported a bright name plate on its collar stating “Rebecca Raccoon of the White House.”

The president was clearly very attached to Rebecca and would often walk the pet around the White House gardens on a leash. In the evening Rebecca would sit comfortably on the president’s lap in front of the fire. Rebecca even got to join the president and his wife in Black Hills, South Dakota when they took their three-month summer vacation.

A couple of dogs and five canaries also made the trip but it was the mischievous raccoon that kept the poor secret service on their toes as she constantly escaped her cage scampering up the tallest tree she could find. In 1928 the pet got a racoon companion but the two never really hit it off and Rebecca took to escaping the grounds completely.

Eventually the Coolidges gave Rebecca to the national zoo. Much has changed since 1926 but I can’t help but wonder what pets we might expect Trump to introduce when he takes office next year.