Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets

Overview

In a world dominated by video games, voice mail, and television, it's easy to overlook the importance of the written word. If one very important thing parents can do to help their children learn is read to them, then encouraging them to write must run a close second. What better — and more rewarding — way to teach a child these invaluable communication skills than through letter writing?
In her warm and engaging text, Mrs. Clinton suggests ways parents can help their children ...

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Overview

In a world dominated by video games, voice mail, and television, it's easy to overlook the importance of the written word. If one very important thing parents can do to help their children learn is read to them, then encouraging them to write must run a close second. What better — and more rewarding — way to teach a child these invaluable communication skills than through letter writing?
In her warm and engaging text, Mrs. Clinton suggests ways parents can help their children initiate and enjoy the experience of writing and receiving letters, sharing her family's (and pets') experience, and explains how letters to Socks and Buddy are received, sorted, and answered at the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home. Mrs. Clinton gives a brief "pet history" of the White House, from Dolley Madison's parrot and Teddy Roosevelt's children's menagerie to the Bushes' English springer spaniel Millie. She also talks about the ways Socks and Buddy participate in White House life, such as greeting guests and visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Fans of the First Pets will be delighted by a section on their vital statistics (Socks' tail length: 1 foot; Buddy's snout length: 5 inches) and answers to the questions most asked by correspondents ("Do you have room service?").
In Dear Socks, Dear Buddy, Mrs. Clinton also shares more than fifty letters children have sent the nation's First Pets, from a simple request for a "paw-tograph" to more exacting notes of good wishes ("I want to give you a big heart, as big as the whole world") and generous advice ("Just because they went on a trip and didn't take you doesn't mean they don't love you any more"). Illustrated with more than eighty photographs of Socks and Buddy on the job and at play in the White House, this book will inspire children to share their ideas and wishes through writing.

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Editorial Reviews

U.S. News
. . .[A]ppropriate as a Christmas stocking stuffer, [the book] will be sprinkled with 75 pictures of the Clinton animals. . .some 50 letters and drawings from children, and a chapter by Socks and Buddy on pet care. Hillary Rodham Clinton pens a chapter on the importance of writing letters in these days of impersonal e-mail. . .
U.S. News
. . .[A]ppropriate as a Christmas stocking stuffer, [the book] will be sprinkled with 75 pictures of the Clinton animals. . .some 50 letters and drawings from children, and a chapter by Socks and Buddy on pet care. Hillary Rodham Clinton pens a chapter on the importance of writing letters in these days of impersonal e-mail. . .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684857787
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,077,116
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Hillary Rodham Clinton served as the US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 after nearly four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, and Senator. She is the author of several bestselling books, including her memoir, Living History, and her groundbreaking work on children, It Takes a Village.

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Read an Excerpt

Foreword

A few weeks after Bill, Chelsea and I moved into the White House, letters and postcards from across the country began arriving, first by the bundle, and then by the bin. Waist-high stacks spilled out from offices into the hallways. Most of the letters were for the President, who at every campaign stop encouraged the American people to keep in touch and let him know what was on their minds. But a lot of the mail was for our black-and-white cat, Socks — a spontaneous outpouring of affection for the first feline to live in the White House since Amy Carter's Siamese, Misty Malarky Ying Yang.

Over the years, Socks has heard from animal lovers of all ages, including admirers from England, Bangladesh, and nearly 50 other countries, who have written asking for celebrity shots and "pawtographs" (his paw print signature). And since our chocolate Labrador retriever, Buddy, bounded into our lives, he has acquired lots of pen pals of his own. Together, Socks and Buddy have received more than 300,000 letters and e-mails, as well as hundreds of handcrafted gifts (you will see several of them in the photographs included in this book). By comparison, Thomas Jefferson, one of the most prolific correspondents of his day, received an average of 137 letters a month while he was President. Who says the art of letter writing is dead?

One of my favorite stories about letter writing has to do with a predecessor of mine in the White House, Dolley Madison. And by coincidence, Mrs. Madison demonstrated what it means to be a devoted pet owner as well.

During the War of 1812, in the year 1814, President James Madison was out leading his troops against the advancement of the British forces. He sent word to his wife that the British had broken through the lines and were marching on to Washington and she had to flee. But instead of leaving when she was first ordered to do so, Mrs. Madison stayed behind to collect the most prized possessions in the house. The single most important object, she felt, was the fabulous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington that hangs in the East Room of the White House. While the frame was being broken and the picture removed, she hastily finished a letter to her sister in which she described being within the sound of a cannon. "And now, dear sister, I must leave this house..." she concluded. "When I shall again write you, or where I shall be tomorrow, I cannot tell!!"

I think of Dolley Madison not only taking the time to gather the painting, her husband's cabinet papers, and other historic treasures, but to write to her sister! Her letter is so important because it illuminates a part of our history. One of the last valuables that Mrs. Madison managed to carry out of the executive mansion was her colorful pet parrot. It was moved to safety just before the British set fire to the White House.

The letters to the First Pets were written under vastly different circumstances from Dolley Madison's letter to her sister, of course. But they document our time as Mrs. Madison's letter did hers.

Establishing a connection with the First Pets is often a child's earliest encounter with the White House, the office of the President, or even the workings of government. Children of previous generations wrote to F.D.R.'s dog Fala or the Kennedys' dog, Pushinka. To celebrate today's young citizen-writers, I'd like to share some of their letters to Socks and Buddy and help them get to know our cat and dog better.

Children often ask Socks and Buddy: "How does it feel to have all the food you want?" "Do you have a Secret Service agent?" "Do you ever annoy the President?" "Are there any good mice in the White House?" "What do you do for a living?" The mail is so voluminous that our cat and dog cannot answer every question. We're fortunate that many of the retired servicemen and women who live at the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home in Washington, D.C., volunteered to pitch in, helping the animals send out greetings and photos. Each of them has a heroic, untold story. Many of the veterans served their country in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam. I would like to thank all of them, especially William Woods, Allan Gordon, Norman Godfrey, and Layne Whitman, for graciously taking on a new self-appointed tour of duty opening, sorting, and answering the letters.

Long before we got to the White House, Bill and I realized the importance of trying to reply to everyone who writes us — even those who send notes to our pets. When Chelsea was just five years old, she decided on her own that she wanted to write a letter to an elected official about an issue that concerned her. She was adamant, and so we sat down with her and talked about it and helped her with some of the spelling. She sent it off and every day she waited for a response. I still remember the disappointment I shared with her when one never came.

We don't want anyone who writes to the White House, especially a child who signs his message "Your Friend," to feel that it is just a one-way street. Back-and-forth communication helps youngsters understand that writing serves a real purpose in our evervday lives. Even more important, when a letter is reciprocated, it makes people feel that they've been heard and that they matter.

Writing a letter is also a wonderful way to express oneself. Letters are one of the most powerful forms of writing because they are so personal. I've been gratified by the pleasure that so many people have taken in Socks and Buddy, and at how imaginative their letters often are. Children and their animal friends have extended many invitations to our cat and dog to fetch sticks, chase squirrels, or simply to get away from the White House for what they perceive as some much-needed R & R. And Socks has received his share of marriage proposals. (I suspect that most people think Buddy is still too young for anything more than puppy love.)

Pictures are a frequent gift from pen pals. Socks and Buddy have a large collection of portraits of their feline and canine friends. Some children embellish their letters with wonderful drawings, stickers, or paw prints. One fifth-grade class imagined all of the activities in which Socks might participate and then sketched them — Socks in pajamas, Socks jogging with the President, Socks taking a catnap on Chelsea's bed. And when Buddy moved in, another group of students had a contest to see who could design the best newsmagazine cover announcing his arrival.

Encouraging girls and boys to write letters also helps them to learn that these gestures of kindness count. Soon after Buddy joined our family, Socks was deluged with messages from children who wanted to console him about having to share the White House with another pet — a dog, no less. "Maybe you need to teach that dog some cat manners," a young letter writer suggested. Others offered support to Buddy. "I got used to my brother," wrote one child, "so I'm sure you will get used to Socks."

What touches me most about the letters is how much the children give of themselves. Besides their desire to learn more about the animals, they want to let Socks and Buddy know who they are, too — describing other members of their families, what they like to do best on their birthdays, what their favorite food is (pizza ranks high on the list). Some of the questions they ask reflect what's going on in their own lives, like "Do you get in trouble sometimes?" or "Have you ever broken a window?" Buddy and Socks hear from many children who can't have a dog or cat of their own because of family circumstances — they live in a small apartment or their parents or siblings have allergies. Writing to our pets can be a good way for them to express their disappointment or to articulate the complex emotions of growing up....

....Assembling these letters from children to Socks and Buddy gives me the opportunity to share with you some of the many laughs and loving moments that Bill, Chelsea, and I have enjoyed with our pets. Of course, our cat and dog are much too busy greeting visitors, sitting in on Oval Office meetings, and catching up on sleep to do an "as told to" memoir. Instead, I've decided to tell you my favorite stories about our pets and show you some pictures from Socks and Buddy's personal photo album. I'd like to thank everyone in the White House who helps care for and play with the First Pets, and in particular my thanks to the White House photographers whose archival photographs fill these pages, especially Barbara Kinney.

I hope you have as much fun reading Dear Socks, Dear Buddy as I have had putting the book together.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Copyright © 1998 by the National Park Foundation

from Kids' Letters to the First Pets

Dear buddy how are you doing in the white house? Is Bill taking care of you? Do you like tennis balls? Are you being nice to Socks?

We have a golden retriever named Samantha. She is a hound. She loves to eat. Her favorite foods are bagels and toast. When she was about 3 1/2, Sammy went down the slide of the playground! When we have friends sleeping over, Sam gets very excited and tries to steal some of their clothing — especially Socks! Would you Please send us a picture of buddy? thanks a lot.

Your friend Ben

and his mom

Copyright © 1998 by the National Park Foundation

from Kids' Letters to the First Pets

Dear Socks,

Your one cool cat, and I am pleased to be writing to you. Do you think I may have an autographed picture of you. I would keep it on my bookshelf with an alarm on it for all my life.

Thank you for reading my letter. Please write back. Hope to hear from you soon.

Your friend

Michael Carter

Copyright © 1998 by the National Park Foundation

from Kids' Letters to the First Pets

Dear Socks and Buddy,

My name is Susanna. I am 7 years old. I live with my dog Zoë She is a springer spaniel and is 14 in dog years. She loves to chase squirrels and chipmunks.

What do you like to do for fun?

Love,

Susanna

P.S. I am writing this for Zoë because she is taking a nap.

Copyright © 1998 by the National Park Foundation

from Kids' Letters to the First Pets

Dear Socks,

I think you're cute. like you. I love you so much I want to give you a big heart, as big as the whole world. Please write back.

Love,

JEN

Copyright © 1998 by the National Park Foundation

Socks Stats

Type of Cat: Domestic short hair

Date of Birth: Unknown

Member of the Clinton family since: March 1991

Height (Head to Paw): 14 1/2 inches

Weight: 9 pounds

Tail length: 1 foot

Color: Black with white markings

Eyes: Yellow-green

Favorite activity: Taking a catnap

Favorite bugs to catch: Spiders

Least favorite color: Chocolate brown

Favorite hideout in White House: In a chair outside the Oval Office

Copyright © 1998 by the National Park Foundation

Buddy Bio

Type of dog: Labrador retriever

Date of birth: August 7, 1997

Member of the Clinton family since: December 1997

Height (head to paw): 31 inches

Weight: 68 pounds (and still growing)

Snout length: 5 inches

Color: Chocolate brown

Eyes: Hazel

Favorite activity: Chasing tennis balls and chewing on them

Favorite bugs to swat: Flies

Least favorite colors: Black and white

Favorite hideout: Behind the President's desk

Copyright © 1998 by the National Park Foundation

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword

Paw Prints in the White House

Socks Stats

Buddy Bio

Dear Mom, Dear Dad: A Few Suggestions on How to Write with Your Children

Dear Socks: Most Often Asked Questions

Dear Buddy: Most Often Asked Questions

Socks and Buddy's Guide to Good Pet Care

A Note on Saving America's Parks and Treasures

Resources

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Foreword

Foreword

A few weeks after Bill, Chelsea and I moved into the White House, letters and postcards from across the country began arriving, first by the bundle, and then by the bin. Waist-high stacks spilled out from offices into the hallways. Most of the letters were for the President, who at every campaign stop encouraged the American people to keep in touch and let him know what was on their minds. But a lot of the mail was for our black-and-white cat, Socks — a spontaneous outpouring of affection for the first feline to live in the White House since Amy Carter's Siamese, Misty Malarky Ying Yang.

Over the years, Socks has heard from animal lovers of all ages, including admirers from England, Bangladesh, and nearly 50 other countries, who have written asking for celebrity shots and "pawtographs" (his paw print signature). And since our chocolate Labrador retriever, Buddy, bounded into our lives, he has acquired lots of pen pals of his own. Together, Socks and Buddy have received more than 300,000 letters and e-mails, as well as hundreds of handcrafted gifts (you will see several of them in the photographs included in this book). By comparison, Thomas Jefferson, one of the most prolific correspondents of his day, received an average of 137 letters a month while he was President. Who says the art of letter writing is dead?

One of my favorite stories about letter writing has to do with a predecessor of mine in the White House, Dolley Madison. And by coincidence, Mrs. Madison demonstrated what it means to be a devoted pet owner as well.

During the War of 1812, in the year 1814, President James Madison was out leading his troops against the advancement of the British forces. He sent word to his wife that the British had broken through the lines and were marching on to Washington and she had to flee. But instead of leaving when she was first ordered to do so, Mrs. Madison stayed behind to collect the most prized possessions in the house. The single most important object, she felt, was the fabulous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington that hangs in the East Room of the White House. While the frame was being broken and the picture removed, she hastily finished a letter to her sister in which she described being within the sound of a cannon. "And now, dear sister, I must leave this house..." she concluded. "When I shall again write you, or where I shall be tomorrow, I cannot tell!!"

I think of Dolley Madison not only taking the time to gather the painting, her husband's cabinet papers, and other historic treasures, but to write to her sister! Her letter is so important because it illuminates a part of our history. One of the last valuables that Mrs. Madison managed to carry out of the executive mansion was her colorful pet parrot. It was moved to safety just before the British set fire to the White House.

The letters to the First Pets were written under vastly different circumstances from Dolley Madison's letter to her sister, of course. But they document our time as Mrs. Madison's letter did hers.

Establishing a connection with the First Pets is often a child's earliest encounter with the White House, the office of the President, or even the workings of government. Children of previous generations wrote to F.D.R.'s dog Fala or the Kennedys' dog, Pushinka. To celebrate today's young citizen-writers, I'd like to share some of their letters to Socks and Buddy and help them get to know our cat and dog better.

Children often ask Socks and Buddy: "How does it feel to have all the food you want?" "Do you have a Secret Service agent?" "Do you ever annoy the President?" "Are there any good mice in the White House?" "What do you do for a living?" The mail is so voluminous that our cat and dog cannot answer every question. We're fortunate that many of the retired servicemen and women who live at the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home in Washington, D.C., volunteered to pitch in, helping the animals send out greetings and photos. Each of them has a heroic, untold story. Many of the veterans served their country in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam. I would like to thank all of them, especially William Woods, Allan Gordon, Norman Godfrey, and Layne Whitman, for graciously taking on a new self-appointed tour of duty opening, sorting, and answering the letters.

Long before we got to the White House, Bill and I realized the importance of trying to reply to everyone who writes us — even those who send notes to our pets. When Chelsea was just five years old, she decided on her own that she wanted to write a letter to an elected official about an issue that concerned her. She was adamant, and so we sat down with her and talked about it and helped her with some of the spelling. She sent it off and every day she waited for a response. I still remember the disappointment I shared with her when one never came.

We don't want anyone who writes to the White House, especially a child who signs his message "Your Friend," to feel that it is just a one-way street. Back-and-forth communication helps youngsters understand that writing serves a real purpose in our evervday lives. Even more important, when a letter is reciprocated, it makes people feel that they've been heard and that they matter.

Writing a letter is also a wonderful way to express oneself. Letters are one of the most powerful forms of writing because they are so personal. I've been gratified by the pleasure that so many people have taken in Socks and Buddy, and at how imaginative their letters often are. Children and their animal friends have extended many invitations to our cat and dog to fetch sticks, chase squirrels, or simply to get away from the White House for what they perceive as some much-needed R & R. And Socks has received his share of marriage proposals. (I suspect that most people think Buddy is still too young for anything more than puppy love.)

Pictures are a frequent gift from pen pals. Socks and Buddy have a large collection of portraits of their feline and canine friends. Some children embellish their letters with wonderful drawings, stickers, or paw prints. One fifth-grade class imagined all of the activities in which Socks might participate and then sketched them — Socks in pajamas, Socks jogging with the President, Socks taking a catnap on Chelsea's bed. And when Buddy moved in, another group of students had a contest to see who could design the best newsmagazine cover announcing his arrival.

Encouraging girls and boys to write letters also helps them to learn that these gestures of kindness count. Soon after Buddy joined our family, Socks was deluged with messages from children who wanted to console him about having to share the White House with another pet — a dog, no less. "Maybe you need to teach that dog some cat manners," a young letter writer suggested. Others offered support to Buddy. "I got used to my brother," wrote one child, "so I'm sure you will get used to Socks."

What touches me most about the letters is how much the children give of themselves. Besides their desire to learn more about the animals, they want to let Socks and Buddy know who they are, too — describing other members of their families, what they like to do best on their birthdays, what their favorite food is (pizza ranks high on the list). Some of the questions they ask reflect what's going on in their own lives, like "Do you get in trouble sometimes?" or "Have you ever broken a window?" Buddy and Socks hear from many children who can't have a dog or cat of their own because of family circumstances — they live in a small apartment or their parents or siblings have allergies. Writing to our pets can be a good way for them to express their disappointment or to articulate the complex emotions of growing up....

....Assembling these letters from children to Socks and Buddy gives me the opportunity to share with you some of the many laughs and loving moments that Bill, Chelsea, and I have enjoyed with our pets. Of course, our cat and dog are much too busy greeting visitors, sitting in on Oval Office meetings, and catching up on sleep to do an "as told to" memoir. Instead, I've decided to tell you my favorite stories about our pets and show you some pictures from Socks and Buddy's personal photo album. I'd like to thank everyone in the White House who helps care for and play with the First Pets, and in particular my thanks to the White House photographers whose archival photographs fill these pages, especially Barbara Kinney.

I hope you have as much fun reading Dear Socks, Dear Buddy as I have had putting the book together.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Copyright © 1998 by the National Park Foundation

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Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, March 16th, barnesandnoble.com on AOL welcomed Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss DEAR SOCKS, DEAR BUDDY.


Jainbn: Mrs. Clinton, it's such an honor to have you with us this evening for your first online chat ever! Welcome.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Thank you so much. I am delighted to be here.


JainBN: We have many audience questions, so whenever you're ready, we'll get started.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I am ready and looking forward to it!


Carrie W. Brody: How did you decide to write the book? If this was the way, did kids send letters to you first? Or did you ask them to send letters to you after you got the idea of writing the book?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: This book was actually inspired by the thousands of children who began to write to Socks even before we moved to the White House. There have been so many letters to Socks that back in 1993, I asked for help in answering all of Socks's mail. The men and women who live at the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home volunteered to help answer the letters. They answer Socks's mail, and now they even answer Buddy's mail. I decided those letters were so wonderful that I wanted to share them with other children and adults.


Kate: I love to watch children communicate their love and affection to animals. Why do you think children write to the nation's First Pets? Did you write to any presidential pets when you were a child?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I think that children write to Socks and Buddy for a number of reasons. Some write to invite Socks and Buddy to visit them. Some are curious about the pets' lives at theWhite House. Some want to tell Buddy and Socks about their own pets, and some are just looking for somebody to listen to them. One child even wrote to Buddy offering him support in getting used to Socks. He wrote, "I got used to my brother, so I am sure you will get used to Socks." I never did write to any presidential pets when I was a child, but now I wish I had, because I get such enjoyment from the letters that children write.


Marlene: Can you tell us why the proceeds from your book are being donated to the National Park Foundation?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: The National Park Foundation is the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service. The Foundation helps raise money to supplement the public funds that go to keep our national parks open and safe for the public to visit, and the National Park Foundation is a partner in a campaign that I started called Save America's Treasures; we work together to raise awareness about preservation needs across the country as part of the White House Millennium program. Another reason I wanted to help the national parks is that the Park Service takes care of the grounds of the White House, and so Park Service employees spend time around Socks and Buddy nearly every day. Sometimes I will look out the window and see Buddy riding on the back of a tractor, or watch a Park Service grounds worker stopping to pet Socks for a minute.


Kate: I love the pictures in DEAR SOCKS, DEAR BUDDY! Which are your favorites? Do Socks and Buddy have their own special photographer?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I love the pictures too! And some of my favorites are found on page 44, which shows photographers taking a picture of Socks right before we moved from Arkansas to D.C. Another is on page 62, showing the President and Buddy playinggolf. Buddy has a yellow tennis ball in his mouth, trying to get the President to stop golfing and play with him. Another favorite is on page 99, which shows Buddy in a chair with a Socks doll. And I really like the one on page 130 with Socks sitting in the President's chair in the Oval Office. And on page 171, Buddy is trying to talk on the phone with the President. Now, Buddy and Socks do not have their own special photographer, but the White House photographers love snapping candid pictures of both of them.


Dawn Carroll: Mrs. Clinton, in light of Women's History Month and your professional success, what advice can you impart to our young women today that will help them to succeed?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Last night in the White House, we held a Millennium lecture in honor of Women's History Month. It was simulcast on the Internet. I think it might be of interest to Dawn and others in the audience, and if so, please find it on the Internet, and if you cannot, call the White House Millennium Council for more information. During the lecture, we talked extensively about young women and the challenges and opportunities they face today.


Emma: What books were your favorites while growing up?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I loved all kinds of books, Emma. I really liked all of the Nancy Drew mysteries, but I read all kinds of books about people's lives, both nonfiction and fiction, and learned a lot of lessons from them.


Joey: In DEAR SOCKS, DEAR BUDDY, you report that Socks and Buddy have received more than 300,000 letters and emails. The art of letter writing certainly isn't dead! What are some ways parents can encourage their kids to discover the fun of letter writing?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Well, Joey, you are right, the art of letter writing is certainly alive. Socks and Buddy now receive more than 300,000 letters and emails a year. In comparison, Thomas Jefferson received an average of 137 letters a month when he was president. I think letter writing helps a child's language development, vocabulary, and ability to organize ideas. One way to encourage children to write is by giving them their own supply of paper, markers, and crayons to keep around the house. Parents can then encourage their children to do things like write invitations to come over to play,or have a pretend tea party, and older children can be encouraged to keep a journal. Certainly communicating through email with grandparents and other family members helps children learn to write and express themselves.


Jenna Jones: President Nixon's family pet Checkers is buried at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. Will Socks and Buddy have a special place at the Clinton Library? I am ten years old.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I don't know what will happen in the future, because the President has not yet built the Clinton Library, but I think Jenna has a good idea. And I know that our dog before Buddy, named Zeke, was buried at the Arkansas governor's mansion.


Mary Dolores Bonilla: As a child and an adult I've enjoyed my visits to Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. What can my family and I do to assist in preserving such a wonderful park and parks like these for my future grandchildren and for children of the world to see? I am also an elementary school teacher and would like to involve my students in a worthy cause in preserving these wonderful and magnificent sights.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Thank you for your question, Mary Dolores. We are so blessed in our country to have the magnificent national parks that we enjoy. There are many ways to help preserve our parks system. You can contribute to the National Park Foundation, which will help restore and preserve our parks. You can learn more about our parks and their conservation needs and encourage our public officials to take care of our parks. You can help volunteer at a nearby park to clean up, or help out in other ways. There are many programs at our parks for students, and there is even a Junior Ranger program. So I hope you will continue to enjoy our parks and talk with our people about what can be done to preserve them for the future.


Sarah Kotila: Do Socks and Buddy get along, and who takes care of them when you and the President are away from the White House? We have to take our chinchilla out to run on the screen porch everyday. When do you find time to exercise Socks and Buddy?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: We have a lot of people who work at the White House who love Socks and Buddy. When we have to be out of town, they take turns watching after both of them. Buddy goes outside a lot, and his favorite form of exercise is to chase tennis balls. He and the President spend a lot of time in the backyard playing together until the President finally quits, because Buddy could run around all day long. Socks spends his time outside on a leash, because we are worried that he could slip away through the fence and get hurt. So Bill and I like to go with Socks around the yard, carrying him.


Soozan: What are your views on literacy in America today? What advice do you have in further promoting it?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Soozan, I think it is very important to promote literacy for people of all ages today, and we should recognize that literacy is not just reading but also writing and the ability to communicate effectively. Literacy connects us to each other and the larger world. It helps us think independently and creatively. One of the best ways to encourage literacy in children is by modeling it. That means both reading and writing to children, and encouraging them to do the same. There are a number of important programs that are increasing literacy for young people in our country today. The President's America Reads Challenge calls on all Americans to support teachers as they work to make sure children can read well by the end of the third grade. Another program, Prescription for Reading, encourages doctors and nurses to prescribe reading and provide books to young children and parents. Publishers like Scholastic have donated thousands of books so that young patients can receive a book at every check-up. And the National Education Association celebrates reading and Dr. Seuss's birthday every year.


Nancy Holton: My dogs' names were Spot and Biscuit. I let my kids name them. At first I was embarrassed at the simplicity of the names they chose, but now I think it was important for them to create the name. How did you name your pets?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: When we found Socks, who was a lost little kitten, and decided to take him home, we let Chelsea name him, and because he has white markings on his paws, it looked like he was wearing white socks. Now, Buddy was a gift I gave to the President with the help of some friends of ours, and Bill decided he wanted to name our new lab puppy in honor of his favorite uncle who had just died, and who was named Buddy as a lifelong nickname. I agree with Nancy that it is important for children who have pets to name them, and for adults to choose a name that has some meaning as well.


Genoa: Do you think Socks and Buddy know that you are a VIP?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I don't think Socks and Buddy know that anyone in the White House is a VIP other than them. I am absolutely convinced that Socks is descended from a noble feline line and probably believes he is the most important being in the White House. He certainly believes that he is far more important than Buddy, and Buddy is still enough of a puppy to think that the world should revolve around him andhis desire to chase tennis balls all day. I do know that Buddy misses the President a lot when he goes away, and he must know that there is something different about a helicopter landing in the backyard from time to time, but I think the importance to him in seeing the President is knowingthat his best human friend and ball thrower has returned.


Elise: Are Socks or Buddy involved in any pet therapy with elderly people? I noticed some pictures in the book where it looked like Socks was somewhere other than the White House. How often does he make these excursions?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I think that pet therapy is a very important way of connecting with elderly people in nursing homes or people of any age who are confined in any setting, such as a hospital. Socks likes to visit nursing homes and orphanages around D.C., and every year he accompanies me to the Children's Hospital at Christmas. He has also visited the volunteers who answer his mail. Buddy has not yet made any formal public appearances, but I am sure he will in the future.


Maria Parodi: Does Socks ever bring you a present, like mice or birds? It makes me cry to see our cat Shannon leaving dead things outside our house, but my friends say it's nice. Chance, our dog, never does that. From Maria, age 15.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Socks used to chase birds and squirrels before we moved to the White House. Occasionally he would catch a bird and bring it as a present to us. Since he has been at the White House and kept on a leash outside, he has been much more restricted, but somehow he has managed to catch a bird and a squirrel. Buddy chases anything that moves but catches nothing! One of Buddy's favorite places at the White House is the pond of the south grounds. From time to time, ducks land on the pond, and Buddy leaps into the water. At first the ducks would fly away, but now they stay and just share the pond with him, though I think that Buddy has been able to figure out how to get along with every animal that inhabits the White House except Socks.


Megan: What is one of your favorite pet memories from your time in the White House?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I have so many favorite pet memories from my last six years in the White House, but I especially have enjoyed watching Buddy and Socks become friends. My husband has worked very hard to bring peace to many parts of the world, and was determined that Buddy and Socks would get along. One day he brought them both into the house, and we put them in the same room together and talked with each of them to encourage compromise and reconciliation. Buddy was more eager than Socks and kept barking and wagging his tail to demonstrate his good faith and commitment to peace, but Socks was much more cautious, and he kept backing away further and further until he was completely under a couch, with just his head sticking out, and when Buddy bounded over to try to get closer to him, Socks disappeared completely, which sent Buddy into a tailspin. He started running around in circles madly, and while he was preoccupied chasing his tail, looking for Socks, Socks carefully and slowly snuck out from under the couch and circled around the room until he came to where Bill and I were sitting, jumped up into my lap, looked at Buddy, and looked back at us as if to say, "Why are you subjecting me to this child?" Since then we have respected Socks's feelings and have not put them in the same room for any length of time. But when Buddy gets too close, Socks gives a little hiss that warns him away. So I guess you could say they are living in a state of peaceful but uneasy coexistence, which we are grateful for.


Jainbn: Mrs. Clinton, it's been an absolute delight having you here with us tonight. We'd love it if you came back with the publication of your next book. Thank you!

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Thank you very much!


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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

    I know this is geared mainly towards children, and I bought copies for my young niece and nephews for Christmas of 2009. Before I wrapped them, I glanced through them, and found I couldn't stop laughing!

    I also appreciated that Hillary Clinton emphasized how important it is for parents to encourage their children to correspond in writing. And there's also some neat family history included. Not to mention the letters from the kids--priceless!! And the photos were great, too--I especially liked the one featuring Socks surrounded by male photographers. Just hilarious!!

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