Decision 2020: Race for the Dog House

Meet America's paw-tential first pets on National Dogs in Politics Day

President Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Cut to Monday’s National Dogs in Politics Day 2019 and his statement’s more relevant than ever. That’s because dogs are honest, true and filled with love. How many politicians can we say that about?

Depending on the outcome of the 2020 race, our nation’s capital may once again have a dog taking up residence.

Pets and presidents seem to mix well. “Dogs belong in the White House,” says Dr. Edele Grey, a veterinary surgeon who’s also an adviser to the dog-care website Fluent Woof. “They are the best therapists after all. Studies have shown that just stroking a pet can reduce your stress levels and heart rate — which is all too important in high-pressure decision making in the Oval Office.” In fact, Donald Trump’s the first chief executive without a pet in over 150 years. (Longer if you count President Andrew Johnson’s mice. Little wonder he was impeached.)

Dogs can help presidents cope with the inevitable stress. (Anna Zisk)

Dogs do have a way of calming humans — even when that human is the most powerful person on the planet.  “Dogs can help to lower blood pressure, bring comfort in loneliness, increase self-esteem, build confidence, and more.” says Dr. Libby Guise, another Fluent Woof vet. “It’s no wonder so many past presidents had a faithful companion with them.” 

“Dogs belong in the White House. They are the best therapists after all. Studies have shown that just stroking a pet can reduce your stress levels and heart rate…”

That’s why we love to celebrate National Dogs in Politics Day. We get to learn about politicians’ pups, while secretly wishing that our public servants could be more like them. Depending on the outcome of the 2020 race, our nation’s capital may once again have a dog taking up residence. Several of the Democratic candidates and one of the Republican challengers have dogs in the family. Here’s a look.

Democratic Dogs

Breed: Golden Retriever
Candidate: Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren alongside husband and Bailey (Chuck Kennedy)

Warren’s husband, Bruce Mann, gave Bailey to the Massachusetts senator as a gift. She named him after Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, in the 1947 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Why? Because he was “a guy who was decent, determined and saw the best in people.” Bailey appeared with Warren when she announced her candidacy, and the pup has been active in the campaign with his own Twitter account: @FirstDogBailey.


Artemis and Rosie
Breed: Labrador retrievers
Candidate: Beto O’Rourke

The former Texas congressman owns two black Labs. Artemis made headlines when Vanity Fair featured her and the candidate on its April cover. O’Rourke has shared pictures of both pups along with Silver, his cat, for National Pet Day. Like Bailey, Artemis has a Twitter account: @First_Dog_USA


Champ and Major
Breed: German shepherds
Candidate: Joe Biden

Joe Biden and Major (Delaware Humane Association)

The former veep adopted Major last year after learning about him and his five littermates on social media. The pups needed treatment for toxic chemical exposure. Major joined Biden’s older German shepherd, Champ, who has been part of the household since 2008. Both dogs maintain a low profile in the race, and they do not have any social media accounts.


Truman and Buddy
Breeds: Truman – Lab-mix; Buddy – Puggle
Candidate: Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete includes two rescue dogs in his family. Truman, dubbed “First Dog of South Bend,” came from a shelter in 2017. Buddy, a one-eyed pooch with “a little bit of a weight problem,” joined the pack last December. The mayor includes his dogs in Twitter posts and Facebook videos. Truman and Buddy share a Twitter account: @firstdogsSB.


Bear and Buckeye
Breed: Lab mixes
Candidate: Tim Ryan

The Ohio congressman took two of his children to a shelter to adopt a dog and came home with two. He named one of the siblings Buckeye — for his home state. They dubbed the other one Bear because of his thick fur. Ryan frequently posts about his canine kids on social media.


Breed: Maltese
Candidate: John Delaney

Delaney, a former Maryland congressman, had a cocker spaniel named Annie, who unfortunately passed away in the spring. The family still has this sweet little Maltese. She isn’t very involved in Delaney’s campaign, but does sport a collar that promotes her owner’s bid for the presidency.


Breed: Mix
Candidate: Michael Bennet

Pepper joined the Colorado senator’s family after a victorious 2010 campaign. Bennet had promised his daughters he would buy them a dog if he won. The family found Pepper through a state prison program that rescues dogs from shelters and trains them. 


Breed: Cockapoo
Candidate: Joe Sestak

The former Pennsylvania senator gave Belle to his daughter, Alex, on her third birthday. Belle is currently 15 — but still healthy.


Republican Dogs

Max and Hunter
Breed: Lab mixes
Candidate: Joe Walsh

The former Illinois congressman adopted Max and Hunter from a local shelter. Although there’s very little information available about these pooches, Walsh tweeted, “I’m so grateful for my rescue dogs Max and Hunter!” He also playfully shared that he loves them more than freedom and limited government.

Still over 13 months to go ’til the 2020 election. Have you settled on a dog yet?

Scarlett Gold is the head of content at Fluent Woof. She is a Yorkie-mixed mom and true animal lover. Her primary focus is bringing readers the very best dog-care resources and info to help owners better care for their canine companions.