Laddie Boy

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Laddie Boy
Laddie Boy portrait crop.jpg
SpeciesCanis lupus familiaris
BreedAiredale Terrier
Born(1920-07-26)July 26, 1920
DiedJanuary 23, 1929(1929-01-23) (aged 8)
OwnerWarren G. Harding

Laddie Boy (July 26, 1920 – January 23, 1929) was an Airedale Terrier owned by U.S. President Warren G. Harding. He was born in Toledo, Ohio. His father was Champion Tintern Tip Top.[1][2] He was presented to US President Warren G. Harding by Charles Quetschke of Caswell Kennels and became a celebrity during the Harding administration.[1]

Laddie Boy was a faithful dog. When the president played golf and hit a tree, Laddie Boy would run up to the tree and retrieve the ball. Laddie Boy had his own hand-carved chair to sit in during Cabinet meetings. The White House held birthday parties for the dog, invited other neighborhood dogs to join, and served them dog biscuit cake. Newspapers published mock interviews with the dog. Laddie Boy had a caretaker.

He was the first "First Dog" to be regularly covered in the national press.[2][3] Harding and his wife Florence shared a love of animals and the First Lady, also an advocate for the care of abused and neglected animals, soon began employing this handsome dog as a poster child for the national promotion of animal rights issues.[2]

Purportedly, the dog howled constantly for three days prior to President Harding's death in August 1923 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, knowing of his master's imminent demise. In memory of President Harding and honoring his former employment as a paperboy, newsboys collected 19,134 pennies to be remelted and sculpted into a statue of Laddie Boy. Harding's widow died before the statue was completed in 1927 and the statue was presented to the Smithsonian Institution.[4][5] Harding's death and the dog were commemorated in song.[6][7]

After the president's death in 1923, Florence Harding gave the Airedale to Harry Barker, her favorite Secret Service agent. She knew her poor health wouldn't allow her to look after the dog properly. Harry took Laddie home to his family in Boston, and the dog lived a very normal life and was much loved by the Barker family. Laddie's death in 1929 was proclaimed in newspaper headlines across the country.[8]

Laddie is immortalized in bronze along Harding in Rapid City, South Dakota, as part of its "City of Presidents" art installation of presidential statues.[9] In the summer of 2012, Laddie Boy's unique collar, fashioned from Alaskan gold nuggets, was stolen from the Harding Home and Museum.[2][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Dog Fancier". The Dog Fancier: 11. September 1922.
  2. ^ a b c d "Famous and Forgotten, Toledo's Laddie Boy, The First Presidential Pet". August 6, 2012. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  3. ^ "Top Dogs: Canines in the White House" (PDF). White House Historical Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 3, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  4. ^ Tedeschi, Diane (January 22, 2009). "The White House's First Celebrity Canine". Archived from the original on April 28, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  5. ^ "National Affairs: Again, Laddie Boy". TIME Magazine. August 16, 1926. Archived from the original on January 31, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2013.(subscription required)
  6. ^ Seward, Edna Bell (poem); Seward, George M. (music), Laddie Boy, He's Gone, Harold Rossiter Music Co/Getty Images (sheet music)
  7. ^ "Series IV: Popular Sheet Music, L-M". Milne Special Collections. University of New Hampshire. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
  8. ^ "Fact vs. Fiction". President Harding Home. President Harding Home. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  9. ^ Rapid City Tourism: City of Presidents, Warren G. Harding
  10. ^ Zachariah, Holly (June 13, 2012). "Thief takes dog collar from Harding home". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved October 1, 2018.

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