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First Pets: Four-Legged or Feathered Friends of President James Garfield

By    |   Wednesday, 30 Dec 2015 08:51 PM

For centuries, pets have helped their owners stay calm and collected through some of their most trying times. It's no wonder that all the men but one in the demanding position of president of the United States have had pets while in office. President James Garfield was among the many who recognized the power of the bond between a pet and its owner and kept a couple with him during his term.

The 20th president, Garfield was born in Ohio in 1831. He started off as a professor, teaching classics at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute and becoming the school's president within just a year, according to the White House Historical Association. In 1859, he was elected to the Ohio Senate. He also served in the military during the Civil War, earning the title of major general of volunteers.

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When Garfield was elected to Congress in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln urged him to give up his standing in the military to pursue his place in the House of Representatives, telling him that he was too good of a Republican for Congress to be let go. Garfield took his advice and ended up winning re-election to the House of Representatives for 18 years.

In 1880, Garfield was the Republican Party's presidential candidate and won the later election against Winfield Hancock by only 10,000 popular votes. Although Garfield showed strength and gusto during his time in office, it was short-lived. He was shot on July 2, 1881, by attorney Charles Guiteau, who had hoped to earn a place in his administration. Garfield died two months later from a resulting infection.

Garfield had two pets with him during his short stay in the White House. According to the Presidential Pet Museum, the first of these was Kit, a mare that belonged to one of Garfield's daughters. The second was a black Newfoundland named Veto. Showing the president's sense of humor, the name was allegedly meant as a reminder to Congress that he might not pass every bill they proposed.

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Veto was also renowned for some of his heroic acts. It is reported that the dog helped avert two near-disasters. First, when a horse was on rampage in the family's barn, Veto held its reins and refused to budge until someone came to help him, stopping the horse from hurting itself or causing any additional damage to the building. Further, when the same barn caught fire, he alerted his family to the impending danger by barking. A memorable and honorable dog, Veto was an important part of the Garfield family.

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President James Garfield was among the many U.S. presidents who recognized the power of the bond between a pet and its owner and kept a couple with him during his term.
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Wednesday, 30 Dec 2015 08:51 PM
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