The Dogs of President Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison and his family owned two dogs during his time in the White
House.

It would be a stretch to say that Harrison was a dog lover - the dogs were cared for
by his staff, wife and children - but his family were said to have adored their pets.

Harrison himself was fond enough of the animals, but never became too close to any
of his pets.

Dash the collie was probably the Harrison family's favorite dog. The dog was a mixed breed Collie, and actually belonged to Caroline Harrison, the President's wife. Unlike Harrison's other dogs, Dash had a private doghouse next to the White House. Even though the President liked the dog he rarely played with any of his pets. He thought that his colleagues and competitors would think less of him if he showed affection to a dog.

There can be large variations in the appearance of Collies as the term doesn't describe a specific breed. Instead, Collies are a group of herding breeds that include the Border Collie and Rough Collie. The distinguishing characteristics are a pointed snout and a light build, but the length and color of coat vary widely. From photos, it's clear to see that Dash had a dark colored, medium length coat.

The Harrison family also owned another dog called Jack, although there is very little information about him. We do know that he didn't have a kennel next to the White House like Dash, although it's not clear where he spent his time. Along with their dogs, the President also owned two opossums named Mr. Protection and Mr. Reciprocity.

When it comes to function and appearance, a mixed breed Collie can be considered a good choice for a Presidential pet. The dogs were originally bred as herding animals, so have a sturdy build and endless energy. They also have an elegant appearance, and are graceful even when running.

Collies are also known to be exceptionally agile, and are intelligent and highly trainable. They are friendly dogs, and are affectionate with children. This makes them suitable as both a Presidential pet and as a family dog, which would have been important for the Harrison family. Benjamin Harrison's favorite hobby was said to be hunting, but it's unlikely that Dash accompanied him on any of his trips. Collies are generally not used as hunting dogs because they were bred to herd. However their high energy levels would have made Dash a good companion for countryside walks.

Harrison was President between 1881 and 1887, so it's not surprising that there aren't many photos of his dogs. There are only a few images of Mr. Harrison and his pets, including one of Dash in front of his kennel next to the White House. There is also a famous picture of Harrison with his children along with Whiskers the goat. Whiskers was trained to pull a cart for Harrison's children, but is said to have been extremely unreliable and unpredictable!