Every pit nutter web site lists President Theodore Roosevelt as a famous pit bull owner. But what do they really know about Pete? His breed has been listed as a boston bull terrier, a bull terrier and a bulldog. Boston bulls were used in the pit in those days. So technically yes, Roosevelt's dog was a pit bull, regardless of which gripping dog he traced his lineage. One thing we know for sure, Pete was a nasty gripper.
According to a veterinarian and expert on presidential pets, Dr Ronnie G. Elmore, "Pete was a Boston bull terrier owned by Teddy Roosevelt family. Pete often bit visitors to the White House and once he even tore the pants off the French ambassador, Jules Jusserand. It was quite a scandal back in the early 1900s."
A DOG'S HISTORY OF AMERICA by Mark Derr p 244
Of course, Roosevelt romanticized Sailor Boy and dogs in general, forgetting Pete-variously identified as a bulldog or a bull terrier-who terrorized the White House between 1905 and 1908. He caused an international incident in 1905 when he treed the French ambassador, Jules Jusserand, who had come to play tennis with the president. Many contemporary accounts claim that Pete chewed a hole in the ambassador's pants at a reception, but that was not so. He tore the pants and flesh of a naval clerk, John T. Thomas, on May I I, 1907, just ten days after his return from an eighteen-month exile after the Jusserand affair. At the time, Pete had been assigned to help the police patrol the White House grounds at night-specifically, it was said, to hold at bay the reporters who staked the place out, observing and questioning visitors.
THE PAWPRINTS OF HISTORY by Stanley Coren p 279
Theodore Roosevelt's bull terrier, Pete, had a dominant personality, and if people annoyed him he had no hesitation about responding with his teeth. When he nipped at a naval officer and snapped at some cabinet ministers, Roosevelt waved the incidents off as "the nature of the breed" or "his attitudes toward their political stances." Unfortunately Pete's aggression continued to increase, and one day he chased the French ambassador, Jules Jusserand, down a White House corridor, ultimately catching up with him and then tearing the bottom out of his pants. The press made a large fuss about this, the French government complained, and rather than jeopardize U.S. relations with France, Pete was exiled to the Roosevelt mansion at Sagamore Hill.
next time you run across an online discussion with nutters reciting the list of famous pit bull owners, please link to this blog.