The Trump family, as far as is publicly known, does not own any animals. Unless something changes, that means that Donald Trump could become the first president in 150 years who does not have a pet.
Well, not if Lois Pope has anything to say about it. Pope, a prominent philanthropist in Palm Beach, Fla., who advocates for veterans’ and animal causes, said in an interview Tuesday that she is in possession of a 9-week-old golden retriever and poodle mix that will soon become the first dog. Pope said she notified Trump, whom she has known for more than two decades, about the Goldendoodle in writing and showed him a photo of the pooch at the Trumps’ recent Thanksgiving event at their Mar-a-Lago home.
“He said, ‘Go over there and show it to Barron,'” Pope said, referring to Trump’s 10-year-old son. “He said, ‘He’s going to fall in love with him.’ He said, ‘Barron will want him.’”
When she showed the photo to Barron, Pope said, “this big smile came over his face, and it just brought tears to his eyes.”
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in an email Tuesday that “no decisions have been made” about the dog. But Pope said she is confident that the Trumps will take the puppy, which she named Patton after George Patton, a World War II general Trump has said he admires.
“I’m sure. Every president has a first dog,” Pope said. “It goes with the presidency.”
Not every president. But it is true that White House dogs have played a prominent role in many presidencies, acting as fluffy public relations representatives who frolic in a perfectly nonpartisan manner on the lawns of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The Clintons had a chocolate Labrador named Buddy, as well as a cat named Socks. In 2009, President Obama joked that deciding what breed of dog to get was more wrenching than selecting a commerce secretary. After considering a Labradoodle and defying the pressure of the animal rescue lobby, Obama ended up choosing a Portuguese water dog named Bo. The Obamas got another, Sunny, in 2013.
Pope said she had Barron Trump in mind when she chose Patton. Moving to the White House will be stressful for a young boy, she said, but it would be less so with a canine friend around.
“It’ll help with the transition. It’ll take away some of the wonder and awe,” said Pope, who added that she could not divulge where she acquired the puppy. “I mean, can you imagine moving into the White House as a child? It’s hard.”
Before that happens, however, Patton must be potty-trained, which Pope said she is in the process of doing. Next, Patton will receive what Pope, whose Life Foundation sponsors awards for “hero dogs” who have helped humans, called “hero dog training.” This will enable him to be not just a companion to the first family, but a protector.
Other Patton attributes: He is part poodle, so he will not bother people with allergies. He is also incredibly cute, Pope said.
“He’s lying right here in front of me,” she said. “Hi Patton! Hi! He’s a good boy. He’s a good boy. He’s trying to eat a basket. We don’t do that. No, we don’t do that,” Pope cooed to the puppy.
“It’s going to be hard for me to let him go,” she said. “But I will do it. Because the boy is more important than I am.”
For the moment, however, it’s not clear that she’ll have to part with Patton. As he is with the position of secretary of state, Trump is apparently still weighing the appointment.