Rex (dog)

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Rex Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.jpg
BreedCavalier King Charles Spaniel
Born(1984-12-16)December 16, 1984
Greenwich, Connecticut
DiedAugust 31, 1998(1998-08-31) (aged 13)
Santa Barbara, California
Resting placeRancho del Cielo
Nation fromAmerican
Known forPet of the First Family of the United States
OwnerRonald Reagan and Nancy Reagan
AppearanceChestnut and white fur
Named afterRex Scouten

Rex (December 16, 1984 – August 31, 1998) was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owned by Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy during his term as President of the United States.

Early life[edit]

Rex was bred by dog breeder Irene Murphy of Greenwich, Connecticut. His registered name was Martlet-Or Worcester. Conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. purchased littermate brother Freddy from the breeder and later arranged for President Reagan to purchase one-year-old Rex and give Rex as a Christmas present to his wife Nancy on December 6, 1985. The White House's previous canine occupant, the Reagans' Bouvier des Flandres named Lucky, had grown too large and had been moved to Reagan's Rancho del Cielo estate in California the preceding Thanksgiving.[1] Rex was named after Rex Scouten, White House Chief Usher.[2] One of Rex's first acts that week was helping to throw the switch that lit the National Christmas Tree.[3]

Residency at the White House[edit]

Rex with the Reagans at Christmas

Rex would live in the White House from that Christmas until Reagan left office in 1989, once gaining headlines when he underwent a tonsillectomy at an undisclosed veterinary hospital.[4] Rex was treated to a lavishly decorated doghouse built by the Washington Children's Museum, which included framed portraits of Ronald and Nancy and red window draperies.[5] It was designed by Theo Hayes, great-great grandson of President Rutherford B. Hayes, and actress Zsa Zsa Gabor reportedly conducted a dedication ceremony for the new structure.

Nackey Loeb, wife of publisher William Loeb III, advised the Reagans to hire a dog trainer for Rex, as she felt it was detrimental to Nancy Reagan's image to have the dog pull her around in front of the press. The President responded to Loeb, stating that Rex was still young and got easily excited when helicopters land on the White House lawn to the extent that "he believes Marine I is his personal dog basket".[6] Rex would ultimately be seen as being calmer than his predecessor Lucky, who is remembered for dragging Nancy Reagan across the White House lawn, while Rex was seen as being better behaved.[7]

Reportedly, Rex took a disliking to the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House. Thought to possibly be haunted by the ghost of Abraham Lincoln, the dog would refuse to enter the room and sometimes would stand outside it and bark through the doorway.[8]

Rex's high-profile led in part to the sudden popularisation of the breed in America in the years following Reagan's presidency.

Later life and legacy[edit]

As a leaving gift when Reagan departed, Rex was given a dog house resembling the White House, complete with a patch of carpet from Camp David.[9]

After Reagan left office, Rex lived to the age of 13 with the Reagan family before being euthanised after developing an enlarged heart due to mitral valve disease. He is interred at Rancho del Cielo.

In 2009, Rex was named fourth in a list of the top Presidential pets by[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Presidential Pets". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  2. ^ Koncius, Jura (10 June 2004). "The Reagans, Home In the White House". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ a b "The Top 5 Presidential Pets". Petside. 11 April 2009. Archived from the original on 30 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Reagan Dog Has Surgery". The New York Times. 15 January 1986.
  5. ^ Dickey, Dr. Dale (19 March 1996). "A great source of joy and companionship". Gettysburg Times.
  6. ^ Reagan, Ronald; Skinner, Kiron K.; Graeber Anderson, Anneliese; Anderson, Martin (2003). Reagan: A Life In Letters. New York: Free Press. p. 605. ISBN 978-0-7432-1966-2. rex ronald reagan.
  7. ^ McFeatters, Anne (30 November 1992). "Move Over Millie, Here Comes Socks". The Telegraph.
  8. ^ Lillie, Helen (23 April 1986). "Ron and Pattie rock Reagan family dreamboat". The Glasgow Herald.
  9. ^ Dowd, Maureen (21 January 1989). "The 41st President; Reagan Packs Up a Presidency and Its Memories". The New York Times.
Honorary titles
Preceded by White House pet dog
December 6, 1985 – January 20, 1989
Succeeded by