What Happened To Socks & Buddy Clinton? The High-Profile Duo Never Really Got Along

President of the United States, First Lady of the United States, First Kid of the United States... and, yeah, First Pet of the United States. There might be no better gig if you're living in the White House than being a First Pet. All the opulence, and none of the responsibility! That was the lifestyle enjoyed by not one, but two four-legged icons of the Clinton White House — so, in honor of Clinton's newly-announced run for president, whatever happened to Socks and Buddy Clinton, those beloved presidential pets?

Well, I may as well get this out of the way quickly, because delivering bad news doesn't get any easier. Both Socks and Buddy are now dead — the Clinton years were a long time ago, sad to say. Buddy's death was, you'd have to say, the more tragic of the two, as he was just four years old at the time. Socks was comparatively ancient when the end came (but I'm sure no less adorable), passing away in 2009 just a month before his 20th birthday.

But hey, you can't get around mortality. That doesn't mean we shouldn't take a look back at this high-powered pet duo, right? Better to remember their stories, and their places in White House history.


Socks, as you can see, was hardly a stranger to media fanfare. An adorable little black-and-white cat who the Clintons adopted as a stray (first spotted by a young Chelsea, as the story goes), Socks joined the family in 1991 — talk about getting in at the right time.

His tenure in Washington wasn't without controversy, thanks to a rather silly effort by one of the Clinton administration's biggest congressional bashers, GOP Rep. Dan Burton. In 1996, as detailed by the Chicago Tribune, Burton tried to foment controversy over who was paying the postage to answer Socks' fan mail.

As a member of the new Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, I would like to inquire what the standard practice is for the White House to respond to mail directed to `Socks,' your cat. How many of these inquiries were responded to over the past two years? Who pays for the postage? If it comes out of the White House mail budget, why are the taxpayers being made to pay for your feline's fan club.

Never fear, however, Socks never got his fan mail cut off. Which is good news, because from 1997, he likely needed a little ego boost — that was when Buddy the chocolate lab moved in, a presence that Socks apparently couldn't stand. Here's what Bill had to say about the Socks/Buddy relationship to CNN back in 2000.

I did better with the Arabs — the Palestinians and the Israelis — than I have done with Socks and Buddy.

Despite having the inside track — what, you're going to turn your back on nine years of Socks? — Buddy ultimately won this struggle in the end. The two pets were apparently so intolerant of one another that the Clintons decided they had to be broken up, and so Socks was sent away to live with Betty Currie, former presidential secretary.


And unfortunately, this is where the story gets sad. At just four years old, Buddy was struck and killed by a car near the Clintons' home in New York in 2002. This didn't result in a return home for Socks, however — he was already settled in with Currie, presumably, and stayed with her until his death from jaw cancer in 2009. We've seen other presidential pets since then, obviously — President Bush's dog Barney, the Obamas' Bo and Sunny — but none of them quite had that Socks flair or that Buddy dignity, you know? Rest in peace, guys.

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