September 01, 2005


 First lady to veterinarians: 'You're my kind of crowd'

Bush headlines General Session

Posted August 15, 2005 

Former first lady Barbara Bush headlined the AVMA General Session/World Veterinary Congress Opening Ceremony, sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition, at the Minneapolis Convention Center, July 16.

Dressed in a blue pants suit and her signature pearl necklace, the wife to a former president and mother of the current president and governor of Florida entertained the audience with tales of the Bush family's pets, the joys of her and her husband's senior years, and the importance of living life to the fullest.

Taking the stage, Bush told the audience, "For the first time in my life, I feel qualified as a convention speaker. You're my kind of crowd." The Bushes are well known for their fondness for dogs, she explained.

During their 60 years of marriage, she and George Herbert Walker have owned seven dogs. President Bush and his brother Jeb are also dog owners. Barney, the president's four-year-old Scottish Terrier, "is a terror at the White House," Bush said. "He even had the nerve the other day to snap at the president's mother."

Bush and her husband have been friends with every one of their dogs' veterinarians. "Our veterinarians have always been there at our side," she said, noting that she takes her dog Sadie to the same small animal veterinarian in Texas as former AVMA President Bonnie V. Beaver does.

Bush spoke about how her husband celebrated his 80th birthday by skydiving. He's already planning another jump when he turns 85 in 2009—a year after an aircraft carrier named for him is launched.

People often ask how they raised a president and a governor, Bush said. "Even with both (sons) in their second terms, I still have no idea," she admitted. "I have no advice to give parents except give your kids unconditional love."

Bush has volunteered in and supported hundreds of charitable and humanitarian causes and currently serves as ambassador-at-large for AmeriCares. She stressed the importance of volunteering and supporting a cause. Bush is an advocate of literacy, and she helped develop the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

Before taking questions from the audience, Bush closed by reciting a prayer that included asking God to bless the nation and for strength to persevere through life's trials. At the end of the talk, Dr. Mary Beth Leininger presented Bush with a $5,000 donation to her foundation on behalf of Hill's, in honor of the veterinary professionals attending the 2005 AVMA Annual Convention.