Historian and author Kate Kelly started her website America Comes Alive! as a way to share her passion for our country’s history with others. Throughout the month of July she’s been focusing on America’s most amazing canines with her “Dog Days of Summer” campaign. Today, take a look back into history with Kelly’s illuminating profile of the dogs of Herbert Hoover.
By: Kate Kelly
Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) was the 31st president of the United States, and both he and his wife, Lou, loved dogs. As it happens, a dog helped Herbert Hoover get elected in 1928.
The dog in question, a German Shepherd named King Tut, was acquired by Hoover when Hoover was in Belgium on assignment for President Wilson, running a war relief organization to provide aid to Europe after the first world war. Hoover adopted his “police dog,” as they were commonly known, while overseas, and he brought King Tut back to America with him.
With a stellar record for his service as a wartime food administrator under Wilson, Hoover was a logical pick to be the presidential candidate in 1928.
Even then political handlers existed and they knew that in order for the very serious and very private Herbert Hoover to be elected, he needed to be presented to the public in a lovable and relatable way.
The solution? Play up Hoover’s natural affection for King Tut. A photograph was taken of a smiling Hoover with King Tut’s paws in Hoover’s hands as if they both were vote-begging. The photo was reprinted by the thousands for the campaign. Adorned with Hoover’s signature, the photo was mailed out to voters across the United States. It worked.
White King Tut was Hoover’s favorite, the White House was filled with dogs during the Hoovers’ time there. There were two fox terriers named Big Ben and Sonnie, a Scotch collie named Glen, a Malamut called Yukon, a setter named Eaglehurst Gillette, another German Shepherd, Pat, and Weejie, the elkhound.
In addition, Lou Hoover received a gift once they were in the White House. A classmate of Lou’s raised Irish Wolfhounds—a very unusual breed for America at the time—and the breeder presented to Lou a dog whose pedigree name was Cragwood Padraic, called Patrick by the Hoovers.
The White House did not bring happiness to the Hoovers or to King Tut unfortunately for all. King Tut took as his responsibility full-time guarding of the president. In addition to patrolling the perimeter of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, King Tut was watchful over all visitors to the White House, and the strain proved to be too much for him. He quit eating, so Hoover sent him to a quiet home, hoping he would recover. Unfortunately, Tut’s health failed to improve, and he died. By this time the stock market had crashed and Hoover did not release the news, realizing that with the pain of the economic devastation people were facing, news about a dog having died would not be helpful to the first family.
In 1932, Hoover without Tut ran again for president but was resoundingly defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who brought dogs—and eventually better news–to the White House.
For more stories about America’s dogs, head over to America Comes Alive!