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From my perspective, you can tell a lot about a person by the way they relate to animals and how they treat their pets. Much good and bad has been said and written about former President George W. Bush but what you can definitely say is that he loves animals and has a good heart. The Bushes had four pets with them during their years in the White House: Spot Fetcher (Spotty), Barney, Miss Beazley and India (also known as Willie or Kitty).
In February 2004 the Bush family lost their 15-year-old English Springer, Spotty. Spotty was the daughter of Millie Bush, the well-known dog of President Bush’s parents, who was born in the White House during George H.W. Bush’s term on March 17, 1989. Spot was named for former Texas Ranger baseball player Scotty Fletcher.
Spot was always eager to please and was never far from the President’s side to the very end, but after suffering a series of strokes the President and his wife, Laura, went along with the veterinarian’s recommendation to put Spotty to sleep. The evening before she was put down, a White House staffer saw the president sitting on the floor cradling Spotty in his arms and talking to her; a touching moment that tells a lot.
The friendly brown-and-white spaniel was regularly seen wandering around the West Wing and the South Lawn alongside the other more energetic and younger Bush dog, Barney, a black 3-year-old Scottish terrier. The two dogs were always brought out to greet the president upon his return to the White House from trips, no matter the hour. They also often traveled with the Bushes to Texas or Camp David. Spot was always the more obedient of the two, loyally climbing onto Air Force One or a helicopter without any prompting while Bush often had to chase Barney down and then hand him off to an aide to be carried aboard.
Mrs. Bush has often said, – especially with the two Bush daughters off at college – “Talking about and playing with the dogs and the family’s much more withdrawn cat, Willie, makes up a significant portion of our entertainment. Spotty will be missed.”
After Spot went to doggie Heaven, the Bushes acquired Miss Beazley, another Scotty, as a companion for Barney. Both were featured on the Barney cam and had their own web page while the Bushes were in the White House and have now returned to Texas with the family. Sadly India the family’s 18-year-old American short-haired cat passed away in January, just days before Bush left the office of the presidency. India had been named for former Texas Rangers player Ruben Sierra. Bush daughter Barbara, then 9, named the cat “India” after the former major league player, whose nickname was “El Indio.” President George W. Bush was a former co-owner of the Texas Rangers.
President Harry Truman said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Plenty of presidents did, and other pets besides.
The Bush White House pets no doubt helped the President through some of his toughest times and from all evidence the love and concern went both ways.