DALLAS – Thousands have offered their condolences via Facebook over the death of Barney, President George W. Bush’s beloved black Scottish terrier.
Bush and his wife, Laura, released a statement Friday saying their famous 12-year-old pooch had died after suffering from lymphatic cancer.
"Barney was by my side during our eight years in the White House," Bush said. "He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend. Laura and I will miss our pal."
The statement was reposted on the former president’s Facebook page and had drawn more than 31,000 comments by Saturday morning, all expressing sympathy for the family’s loss. The Facebook page also shared a 64-photo gallery of Barney, including George W. Bush’s oil painting of the dog. That post had garnered another 8,600 comments.
Barney became an Internet sensation in 2002, when a tiny video camera on his collar offered viewers a dog-level holiday tour of the White House – shuffling from room to room and menacing the Christmas tree. The video drew 24 million online tourists the first day.
Public access to the White House was more restricted in the aftermath of Sept. 11, so first lady Laura Bush sent Barney out to prowl the building with the camera. Barney Cam’s 4.5-minute video tour of the mansion decorations was such a hit that his movies became an annual feature for the rest of Bush’s presidency.
Later videos later included Miss Beazley, the Bush family’s other Scottish terrier, and high-profile cameos by country singer Alan Jackson and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
A burial is planned at the former president’s ranch in Central Texas, where Bush says Barney, "a fierce armadillo hunter," loved to accompany him while fishing for bass.
Barney politely greeted heads of state, queens and prime ministers but "guarded the South Lawn entrance of the White House as if he were a Secret Service agent," Bush added.
Barney was the continuation of a Bush family tradition of presidential dogs begun by Millie, the springer spaniel brought to the White House by President George H.W. Bush and his first lady Barbara Bush.