Presidential Pet Museum Started by White House Dog Groomer Up for Auction

PHOTO: A life-size bronze of Barney Bush, Scottish terrier belonging to President George W. Bushs family, with his red ball. The statue weighs 82 pounds and was sculpted by Richard Chashoudian.The Presidential Pet Museum
A life-size bronze of Barney Bush, Scottish terrier belonging to President George W. Bush's family, with his red ball. The statue weighs 82 pounds and was sculpted by Richard Chashoudian.

For 15 years, Claire McLean cultivated and shared a sentimental part of American history: the pets of presidents.

It all began with a 1985 portrait of "Lucky," the Reagan family dog, painted by McLean’s own mother and finished off with actual clippings from the large black dog’s coat. McLean was the White House dog groomer at the time.

The museum was founded in 1999 and the collection grew to include the bell of President William Taft's cow "Pauline," the last cow to graze the South Lawn of the White House.

Another portrait, featuring real hair from George W. Bush's Scottish terrier "Beazley," joined the museum and was soon followed by a life-size bronze statue of "Barney," another Scottish terrier from the Bush administration.

PHOTO: An original painting by Presidential Pet Museum founder Claire McLean depicting President William Taft enjoying milk from his cow, Pauline Wayne.The Presidential Pet Museum
An original painting by Presidential Pet Museum founder Claire McLean depicting President William Taft enjoying milk from his cow, Pauline Wayne.

But now it’s up for grabs: from the website to the bronze statue of Barney the terrier, the Presidential Pet Museum is looking for a new owner.

It’s up for sale on Flippa.com, with the bidding comfortably resting at $4,200 as of this afternoon.

“Auction is for the entire website property AND the museum's physical inventory. Who wants to run this beloved, quirky museum?,” reads the biography.

“As a concept it’s very popular, the website has gotten a good bit of traffic," said Dave Baker, current owner of the website and editor-in-chief of a pet blog called Petful. "But, it never got the funding to become something bigger than it was.”

PHOTO: A photo of the exhibit featuring Pauline Wayne Tafts cowbell, donated by the nephew of a White House guard. Pauline was the last cow to graze at the White House and supplied fresh milk and butter to the Taft family.The Presidential Pet Museum
A photo of the exhibit featuring Pauline Wayne Taft's cowbell, donated by the nephew of a White House guard. Pauline was the last cow to graze at the White House and supplied fresh milk and butter to the Taft family.

Baker took over the site in 2012, when funding began to run thin. PresidentialPetMuseum.com still sees an average of 50,000 page views and around 25,000 unique visitors per month, Baker said, but he doesn’t have the room to take on the boxes of memorabilia owned by the museum.

Instead, the photographs, paintings and artifacts remain with McLean, now 83 years old, awaiting their next debut. Just recently, that included a private showing for McLean’s fellow residents in her retirement home.

PHOTO: A portrait of Barney Bush, made with his own hair. Barney was a Scottish terrier owned by President George W. Bushs family, seen here with his favorite red ball, and painted by Claire McLean, owner of the Presidential Pet Museum.The Presidential Pet Museum
A portrait of Barney Bush, made with his own hair. Barney was a Scottish terrier owned by President George W. Bush's family, seen here with his favorite red ball, and painted by Claire McLean, owner of the Presidential Pet Museum.

“We’re really hoping to find someone who has a passion like she does and who can carry on her legacy,” Baker said. "We don’t look at it as the end of the Presidential Pet Museum, by any means. This is like a new chapter for it.”

PHOTO: A life-size bronze of Barney Bush, Scottish terrier belonging to President George W. Bushs family, with his red ball. The statue weighs 82 pounds and was sculpted by Richard Chashoudian.The Presidential Pet Museum
A life-size bronze of Barney Bush, Scottish terrier belonging to President George W. Bush's family, with his red ball. The statue weighs 82 pounds and was sculpted by Richard Chashoudian.

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