Laddie Boy, President Harding's dog gets a doggie cake, 1921. Laddie Boy, an Airedale Terrier, graced the presence of U.S. President Warren G. Harding during his time in the White House. Laddie Boy was presented to President Harding by Charles Quetschke of Caswell Kennels, becoming an instant celebrity during the Harding administration.
This faithful companion proved his loyalty time and again. Whenever the president played golf and encountered a wayward shot, Laddie Boy dutifully retrieved the ball from the trees. In Cabinet meetings, he had his very own hand-carved chair to relax in. The White House even hosted birthday parties in his honor, inviting neighborhood dogs to join the festivities, complete with dog biscuit cake. The newspapers even published playful interviews with Laddie Boy, capturing the public's imagination.
As the first "First Dog" to receive regular coverage in the national press, Laddie Boy held a special place in the hearts of the American people. President Harding and First Lady Florence shared a deep love for animals, and Laddie Boy became a symbol for their advocacy of animal rights and welfare.
Legend has it that Laddie Boy sensed his master's impending passing. Prior to President Harding's death in August 1923, the dog reportedly howled incessantly for three days at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. In tribute to President Harding, newsboys collected thousands of pennies, later transformed into a statue of Laddie Boy, commemorating the bond between the president and his loyal companion. Although the statue was presented to the Smithsonian Institution, it remained unfinished due to the untimely passing of Mrs. Harding.
Following President Harding's death, Florence Harding entrusted Laddie Boy to Harry Barker, her favorite Secret Service agent, knowing her declining health would prevent her from caring for the dog properly. Laddie Boy found a loving home with the Barker family in Boston, where he lived a content and cherished life. His passing in 1929 garnered headlines across the country, marking the end of an era.
To honor Laddie Boy's memory, a bronze statue depicting him alongside President Harding stands in Rapid City, South Dakota, as part of the city's "City of Presidents" art installation. Unfortunately, in 2012, Laddie Boy's distinctive collar, crafted from Alaskan gold nuggets, was stolen from the Harding Home and Museum, leaving a void in the collection and a reminder of the dog's extraordinary history.