If You Want a Friend in Washington: Wacky, Wild, and Wonderful Presidential Pets by Erin McGill

Hello, Erin McGill! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. Lou Grant, my loving orange tabby cat, and I LOVE If You Want a Friend in Washington: Wacky, Wild, and Wonderful Presidential Pets. What planted the seed for this informative and fun picture book?

Erin McGill: Hello Lou Grant and Mr. Schu! Thank you for having me. 

Thank you for being here! 

Erin McGill: My husband and I enjoy going to the Westminster Dog Show. The first year we went after the show we started discussing the dogs in the White House we knew. I started googling. I knew Theodore Roosevelt had a lot of pets, but I didn’t know about his guinea pigs. He had a bunch, all named after people he admired. One was Admiral Dewey. My husband is a distant relative of Admiral Dewey. That was the ah-ha moment I knew the small admiral (as I affectionately call him) needed to be in a book. And so the researching began. 

I love it! 


Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Socks Clinton, Tabby and Dixie Lincoln, Tom Kitten Kennedy, and Slippers (T) Roosevelt (who was a large polydactyl cat). 

President Barack Obama’s dog was originally named “New Hope” by his breeders, after Obama’s campaign slogan. He was owned by another family and returned to the breeder before going to the Obamas. The reason for his return is unknown. I would like to think Bo knew he was meant to be a presidential pet! 



Did you know there were no turtles, gerbils, ferrets, chinchillas or ant farms in the White House (though Teddy did have an ant farm as a child)?

I hope If You Want a Friend in Washington shows that you can have engaging story about Washington without focusing on politics. 




Picture books are stacked high in every room of our apartment. And of course the best! 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me… Do I have a pet? Unfortunately, the answer is no. But I would like one. I have had guinea pigs, fish, a hermit crab, an ant farm and a large orange polydactyl (which means they have extra toes) cat named Marigold Marley Archibald Percival Montague Bub Buster Max Sschnookums Borneo McGill the First. He usually went by Bubba though.


Look for If You Want a Friend in Washington: Wacky, Wild, and Wonderful Presidential Pets on July 7, 2020. 

Random House's Description: 

President Truman famously said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." And a dog is what many presidents got. From James Garfield to Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon, presidents often found a friend in Fido (in fact, Abe Lincoln's pup was actually named Fido). Others preferred cats, horses, small critters, or even big, ferocious animals like bears and alligators. With a catchy refrain ("If you want a friend in Washington . . . , "), this is a funny, educational book about the animals that have passed through the White House. Whether it's favorite dogs like Barbara Bush's Millie or the Obamas' Bo; Abraham Lincoln's cat, Dixie; Calvin Coolidge's hippo, Billy; or Andrew Jackson's foul-mouthed parrot, Poll, Erin McGill brings to life a menagerie of presidential pets in this entertaining, whimsical, and carefully researched picture book that's perfect for animal lovers and history buffs alike.

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