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Cats And Dogs Living Together? Clinton Seeks Detente Between Buddy, Socks

President Clinton tried to broker peace Tuesday at the White House between bitter rivals - Buddy and Socks.

After returning from a surprise visit to the Education Department to offer 65th-birthday wishes to Secretary Richard Riley, Clinton brought his two pets together on the South Lawn of the White House for an attempt at detente.

Socks, the cat, was waiting on the lawn as Clinton and Buddy, who rode along in the presidential limousine, stopped on the way to the Oval Office.

A very agitated Buddy approached the cat and began barking as the president restrained him with a green leash. Socks, hair raised high, stood his ground until Clinton and Buddy made their exit to the Oval Office.

Asked what became of the meeting, Clinton replied: “Making progress.”

There is bad blood between the White House pets. Socks was left behind when Buddy and the family vacationed in the U.S. Virgin Islands last week.

While Buddy, the president’s new Labrador pup, took his maiden flight aboard Air Force One for the trip, Socks was left at home in the care of the White House usher.

“He’s a happy little camper,” Clinton had said of Buddy.

On board the plane, the 4-month-old dog curled up on a couch in Clinton’s office and nuzzled a baby-blue wool blanket emblazoned with the presidential seal.

The VIP treatment for the mutt probably did little to help relations back home with Socks.

“When I get back, it’s my first project,” the president had said. “I’m going to have them totally reconciled.”

On that topic, Clinton wondered aloud whether Socks should have been declawed years ago.

Socks, by the way, is a neutered male, but Buddy is unlikely to come under the knife.

Asked whether Buddy might become an “it,” White House spokesman Mike McCurry replied: “No, Buddy is doing quite well as a ‘he.”’