Dog History: All the President's Dogs - Washington to Monroe

President Barack Obama and his dog Bo, playing on the
White House Lawn. Bo is a Portugese Water Dog.
There's no doubt about it, Americans love dogs!

There are millions of pet dogs in the United States, and more all over the world. Dog fans love to see "dogs of influence", like the pets of the actors they like, pets of royalty, animal TV and movie stars, and especially, the pets of the Presidents.

Good news, dog lovers! There have been dogs in the White House for as long as there have been Presidents in the White House. Although not every President has had a dog, many furry friends have accompanied many Presidents through their years of service as President of the United States (POTUS).

Since we love to explore canine history and, lets face it, put our two cents in on just about everything we write, we're going to break this article down into several parts. That way, we can better explore the Presidents and their canine pals, with a few little anecdotes thrown in for good measure. With 44 POTUS so far, there is a lot of ground to cover. Part one of this series will cover the first 5 Presidents and their dogs (or lack thereof).

Why Does My Dog Watch TV?

Ever catch your dog staring at the screen?
Growing up, I always heard that dogs couldn't see the images on the television screen. I don't remember if I thought it was because dogs can't see flat images, or maybe because I thought they were color blind. It really could have been any number of reasons.

So now I wonder, as I see my little pooch lazily watching the large screen LCD TV in my living room and sometimes quietly barking if he sees or hears a horse, dog, or a bear on the screen: can he see the screen? Is he laying around all day while I'm at work, watching Animal Planet and eating dog biscuits? I can't see what he does when I'm not home, but I can try to figure out if my dog actually can watch the telly, and maybe even enjoy it a little bit.

First we have to consider the research.

Dog psychologists and veterinarians have been asked the question, and they say that the human eye and a dog's eye have a different level of ability to perceive moving images. TVs are just a series of flickering images that cycle at a high speed. The human eye can process those images at as low as 55 Hz or 55 flickers a second. The difference is that a dogs eye sees at least 75 to 80 Hz per second. This doesn't mean much with the high-res, HDTVs of today, but back when I was a kid, the common TV was the CRT (cathode ray tube) television. These were only created to show the images at 55 Hz, so dogs really didn't have much interest. That’s not to say that they didn't hear a dog barking on screen and see a blurry image, which made them react like they thought something was happening on that big box that they always see their owners staring at. My dog barks at the door for ten minutes every time some TV show or movie has the sound of a doorbell, and he hasn't lived in a home with a door bell for the majority of his life!

Why Does My Dog Have A Wet Nose?

photo of a wet dog nose
A moist dog nose doesn't always mean what you may think it means!
We've all experienced it: the cold, wet nose of our furry friend. Maybe it is nuzzled into your warm back on a cold winter day, or maybe it is leaving streaks across the windows of your car. In the majority of dog breeds, you will see the wet nose many times over.

So why do dogs have wet noses? Growing up, I thought it was a sign of good health. I had always heard that a wet nose meant your dog's body was normal and a dry nose meant they were sick. Maybe you heard the same thing. Imagine my fears later when I realized that there was not always going to be a time when my dogs noses were wet!

Most often, a wet nose will be due to your dog taking a whiff of some smell in your house or outside. Dogs have special glands in their noses which secrete a thin mucous layer, and that layer of mucus absorbs scent. As many people know, a dog's sense of smell is probably a MILLION times better than ours. That is not really something that is easy to comprehend. So the scent absorbing mucous is part of that amazing fact. The dog sniffs whatever scent he is interested in, gets the mucous secretion, and then licks his nose, therefore giving him a little sampling of the smell. That is usually what will give the dog his wet nose.

The Irish Wolfhound

The smaller dog looks like a tiny
stuffed toy beside this Irish Wolfhound.
There are a few dog breeds that are called "wolfhounds", but for our purposes today we are going to zero in on the breed known as the Irish Wolfhound.

The Irish Wolfhound is a huge breed of dog, which based on its size, would be a frightening figure to encounter in a dark alley! Lucky for most, this breed of dog is sweet, gentle, and friendly. They are also very loyal, so if trained as a guard dog, it would appear quite intimidating. The average weight range for an adult male wolfhound is 140-180 lbs, while the female weighs less, usually between 115-140 lbs. This may sound a little on the light side considering the fact that this is one of the tallest dog breeds (many can reach up to 7 feet tall standing on their hind legs, which is taller than your average professional basketball player), but the slender stature of the breed makes it easier for them to run fast and take down their prey without injuring themselves.

Irish Wolfhounds are really fast runners, and in the past they could prey on animals as large as deer or elk. As the breed name suggests, it is almost certain that the wolfhound was bred specifically for hunting and taking down wolves. They are considered part of the sight hound family, which means they rely on sight and sound to hunt, and not so much on their noses.

Why Does My Dog Sleep On His Back?

Some pups just prefer chilling on their backs!
Photo of Stan & Charlie used with permission of Jen Wardle.
One thing all dog owners know is that dogs LOVE to sleep. Sleeping, eating, and playing, seem to be the favored activities of pet dogs. Studies have shown that dogs sleep around 16 hours a day as domesticated pets. Dogs which are working pets, or dogs in the wild, sleep less because they have to be much more alert. But a pet dog that is comfortable in its home and feels secure will have no qualms about sleeping its furry little life away. If you want to be lazy one day, your pooch will be right there next to you, completely enjoying the relaxation.

Our cockapoo Albi loves to sleep, too. It seems his favorite method of getting comfortable is to sleep belly up, exposing all his intimate parts to the breeze. I have had quite a few dogs over the years and not all of them have been back sleepers. So, I thought this would be an interesting addition to the “Why Does My Dog” series!

As usual, there are a few different thoughts in the research on this subject. Many think that dogs in the belly up sleeping position are the most relaxed. This is a position of submission. If a dog is willing to expose its stomach to someone it may mean it feels safe and secure. Now, this idea would need to be researched a bit more, since some dogs roll on their backs at the drop of a hat! But a dog that chooses to sleep on its back would likely need to feel very secure, since sleeping leaves them exposed as it is.