A Final Bow-Wow
06/02/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT
SHE ROMPED WITH VISITING HEADS of state, gave birth in Nancy Reagan's old beauty parlor and had a No. 1 bestseller. But Millie, George and Barbara Bush's English springer spaniel that died in Kennebunkport, Maine, on May 19 at age 11 of a stomach ailment, never lost touch with the common canine. "She didn't eat gourmet meals, just regular dog food," recalls Jean Becker, the former President's chief of staff. "And anyone in the world could come up and pet her."
Still, during her four years in the pre-Socks White House, Millie had a knack for pawing her way into the limelight. Millie's Book, "ghostwritten" by Barbara Bush, raised $1.1 million for literacy programs—and portrayed in loving detail the bond between the First Lady and her pup. "I remember whenever we were up visiting, wherever Mom was, Millie was always right there behind her," says Texas Gov. George W. Bush, whose family owns Spot, one of Millie's daughters. In 1992, Millie made headlines again when she was found to have lupus at the same time both Bushes were diagnosed with Graves disease, another autoimmune illness.
Of course, like any true celebrity, Millie sometimes misbehaved. In 1989, it was reported she had killed six squirrels, two pigeons and a rat on White House grounds. Another time, Millie had an, er, accident before guests in the Old Executive Office Building. "Millie got scolded, but not much," says Anna Perez, the First Lady's former press secretary. The spaniel never stayed in the doghouse for long. "Mrs. Bush had a rule about not giving Millie food at the table—which the President would often break," says Becker. "Millie would look at him with those eyes, and he couldn't resist."