Barney Cam II: Presidential Pooch Is Back Online

Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News
December 24, 2003

In a triumphant return, Presidential pooch Barney's sequel to last year's blockbuster can now be seen on the Internet.

In his debut video, released in December 2002, President Bush's Scottish terrier took Internet visitors on a virtual tour of the White House to show off the holiday decorations. The four-minute video brought a reported 24 million visitors to the White House Web site the first day it appeared.

Barney Cam II: Barney Reloaded, has a "more complicated" plot and is "rich with drama and humor," according to the White House. This year's video follows Barney as he works to prepare the White House for the Christmas season. President Bush and senior Presidential advisors have supporting roles. The indications are that the sequel starring the First Pooch is another winner with Web viewers.

Over the years, some 400 pets have called the White House home, ranging from bear cubs, snakes, and a hyena, to cats and cows.

But it's a dog's world, and Barney is just one in a long line of presidential pooches to provide love, companionship, and image enhancement to a president.

Dogs as Image Enhancers

Herbert Hoover's presidential campaign of 1928 demonstrates the power of a pooch. Shy with strangers and uncomfortable in front of large crowds, Hoover appeared cold and distant to the public. To counter the image, advisors suggested he get a canine companion.

Hoover adopted a large German shepherd named King Tut, and an autographed photograph of Hoover holding the dog's front paws was sent to thousands of voters around the country. The warm and fuzzy campaign worked; Hoover became the 31st president of the United States.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's dog, Fala, is credited with contributing significantly to FDR's win in 1944.

Fala accompanied the president on a trip to Alaska's Aleutian Islands in 1944 and was inadvertently left behind. The President ordered the destroyer he was traveling on to turn around and go back for the black Scottish terrier.

Upon hearing of the incident, Republicans howled about wasting taxpayer dollars. Roosevelt responded to the criticism in a speech to the Teamster's Union during his campaign for a fourth term. "I don't resent the attack, and my family doesn't resent the attack, but Fala does resent the attack. His Scotch soul was furious," he said.

"The teamsters just roared with laughter," said Ron Elmore, associate dean of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, who has researched presidential pets. "In fact, in Eleanor Roosevelt's memoirs, she said that she really thought that speech is what turned the whole election around."

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