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Move over Barney, new dog moving into White House

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  • President-elect Obama promises his daughters a puppy
  • White House has a history of president pets -- from dogs to tiger cubs
  • President Bush had three dogs and cat, President Clinton a dog and cat
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By Saeed Ahmed
CNN
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(CNN) -- Barack Obama's two daughters had another reason to high-five their dad's election to the presidency Tuesday night: they're getting a puppy.

Barbara Bush talks to her dog Millie and grandaughter Barbara Bush, age 9, at the White House in 1991.

President Bush's dog Barney walks in the White House Rose Garden in 2007.

"Sasha and Malia," Obama said in his victory speech at Chicago's Grant Park, "I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House."

The new White House pet will follow in the paw-steps of a menagerie of animals that have had the run of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the years.

The Bush family shared their eight years at the White House with a cat, a feisty English springer spaniel and two Scottish terriers -- all of whom have their own pages on the president's Web site.

The Clintons' Washington stay included a cat, Socks, who did not get along with their chocolate Labrador retriever, Buddy.

And Millie the springer spaniel's canine view of life in the White House -- as "told to" then-first lady Barbara Bush -- became a best-seller that outsold the memoirs of President George H.W. Bush.

While many presidents took to heart President Harry Truman's admonishment -- "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog" -- first pets have come in all shapes, sizes and species.

Thomas Jefferson kept two grizzly bears in a cage on the White House lawn, while John Quincy Adams is said to have let his alligator use a bathtub inside.

Calvin Coolidge walked his raccoons on a leash. Theodore Roosevelt's sons escorted their pet pony onto the White House elevator to cheer up a sick sibling. And perhaps the strangest of all: Martin Van Buren briefly owned two tiger cubs, a gift from the Sultan of Oman.

Pets have sometimes been a boon to a president's image. But some have also taken a bite out of their popularity.

Animal lovers howled in protest when Lyndon B. Johnson picked up his beagles, Him and Her, by the ears to provide photographers a better view.

On the other hand, Richard Nixon -- running for vice president and accused of accepting illegal campaign contributions -- successfully defended himself in his famous "Checkers Speech."

The only gift he ever accepted was "a little cocker spaniel dog" that his daughter named Checkers, Nixon said.

"And I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it," he added.

Come January, the Obamas will make history by becoming the first African-American family to move into the White House.

But if Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, get what they've been promised, the new tenants will keep one long-standing tradition alive ... and wagging.

All About Bill ClintonGeorge W. BushDogs

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