Friend of Bill
It was not to be. On Jan. 2, 4-year-old Buddy escaped through an open gate at the Clinton home in Chappaqua, N.Y., chased a contractor's van out onto busy Route 117 and was struck and killed by a Ford Explorer driven by local high school senior Halie Ritterman, 17. Clinton, who had left the previous day for an Acapulco vacation with wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea, got the news in a phone call. "We are deeply saddened," they said in a statement. "He will truly be missed."
A chocolate Labrador retriever, Buddy was a 1997 gift from Clinton pal Tony Harrington and breeder Linda Renfro. The President "loved that dog from the beginning," says Clinton's former secretary Betty Currie, who adopted Buddy's archrival, Socks, the former First Cat, in 2001. "It was his dog." White House aides came under his spell as well. "They'd borrow him when they were having a particularly bad day," says former adviser Paul Begala, now a professor at Georgetown University. "We used to call it 'Buddy time.' " But no one was closer to Buddy than Clinton. "When a boy loses his dog, it's a heartbreak," says Begala. "It doesn't matter how old the boy is."