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White House Goes to the Dogs

Barney and Miss Beazley continue the canine tradition in the White House.

ByABC News
June 4, 2007, 5:14 PM

June 8, 2007 — -- The presidential chapter in the lives of the Bush family pets -- Barney, Miss Beazley and India -- are coming to a close.

There are certainly many days left to lounge about the Oval Office, sniff the South Lawn or protect those nine lives by cuddling up to the Secret Service.

But there's no doubt the race is on to replace them. And on top of all the pressing issues facing 2008 voters, one more can be added: Will a chew toy or litter box move into the White House come 2009?

President Harry S. Truman said it best: "If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog."

And, for the most part, the 19 (at last count) presidential contenders have largely heeded that bipartisan advice.

According to the American Kennel Club, labs are the most popular dog breed in the United States and, appropriately, they are equally popular among the presidential contenders.

"It makes sense when trying to win an election for the candidates to go with the most popular breed," said Mo Rocca, comedian and author of the book All the Presidents' Pets.

Seamus, a chocolate lab, is the only member of the Clinton family who has not previously resided in the White House.

Buddy, an active chocolate Labrador retriever who preceded Seamus as the Clinton's right-hand canine, was killed in January 2002 by a car on Route 117 outside the family's Chappaqua residence in New York.

Socks, the former first cat, author and Buddy's avowed nemesis, was adopted by the former president's secretary Betty Currie.

The former president, who has been taking an increasingly active role in his wife's bid for his old job, once said of the oft-dueling pets: "I did better with the Palestinians and the Israelis than I've done with Socks and Buddy."

Buddy came to define Truman's quote, arriving at the White House in December 1997, only one month before the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in January 1998.

It's a long and lonely campaign for the White House and, no doubt, Sen. Clinton could use a "best friend." But Rocca advises that she be careful about her pick.