Going to the Dogs

Americans will have even more trouble not mixing up George W. Bush's administration with that of his father when another prime White House position is filled by the daughter of a Bush-pere appointee.

Spot, the daughter of former Pres. George Bush's dog Millie, will be returning to the house where she was born, inheriting her mother's role as ''First Dog.''

A self-declared animal lover, the soon-to-be president has given Cabinet-level consideration to which of his pets will be pouncing around the hallowed halls where the head of the nation's only other father-son presidential dynasty, John Adams, began more than 200 years of executive residency.

On the campaign trail, Bush repeatedly mentioned how he began each day in the Texas Governor's mansion by feeding his two dogs and two cats and said he missing them sorely during the campaign.

The Bush's black cat, India, will make the journey to Washington with Spot and Barney, a black Scots terrier puppy presented to Bush before Christmas by Christie Whitman, the Governor of New Jersey who is joining the Cabinet as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The dogs are expected to be given the same free run of the White House and Air Force One that President Clinton's Labrador, Buddy, has enjoyed.

Reluctantly, Bush decided not to take Ernie, a lively, six-toed ginger cat to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Ernie, who likes climbing and hasn't been declawed, could damage the antique furniture, so he will be adopted by Texas friends.

The Clintons had problems preventing Sox from causing damage to national treasures and eventually had him declawed, which caused outrage among animal rights groups.

Spot's mother became a celebrity when Mr. Bush's father was President. Her view of life in the house ''as told to'' the First Lady, Barbara Bush, became a bestseller—even outselling Bush Sr.'s memoirs.

Pets seldom provide anything less than good PR for a President. Harry Truman's famous assessment that ''if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog'' is something most have taken to heart.