He was going to pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey anyway, but President Bush figured he really owed the bird this time. His dog had just scared the stuffing out of it.
Mr. Bush spared the turkey during a Rose Garden ceremony on Wednesday.
"I am granting a full presidential pardon so they can live out their lives as safe as can be," the president declared.
By virtue of a vote on the White House Web site, the turkeys were named "Flyer" and "Fryer," reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
Fryer was Flyer's understudy and nowhere to be seen during the ceremony.
And although turkeys don't fly, these two will. They've got first class tickets to Disneyland where they'll be served up — not as dinner, but as honorary grand marshals of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, reports Knoller.
The president explained that his Scottish Terrier, Barney, got involved this year. The presidential dog typically gets his exercise by chasing a soccer ball around the Rose Garden.
"He came out a little early, as did Flyer," Mr. Bush said. "And instead of chasing the soccer ball, he chased the bird. And it kind of made the turkey nervous. See, the turkey was nervous to begin with. Nobody's told him yet about the pardon I'm about to give him."
At one point, President Bush moved in for a closer look at Flyer, a well-behaved bird raised near Monett, Mo. He petted the turkey's head and back before inviting a couple dozen Girl Scouts to come up and join him.
"It's a fine looking bird, isn't it?" Mr. Bush said.
Mike Briggs, president of Willow Brook Foods in Springfield, Mo., chose the turkeys because he's this year's chairman of the National Turkey Foundation.
The popular pardon ceremony dates to the days of President Harry Truman in 1947.
Yet savoring turkeys, not saving them, is the agenda for millions of people on Thanksgiving Day.
The typical American consumes more than 13 pounds of turkey a year, with a good serving of it coming at Thanksgiving.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urged Mr. Bush to send the pardoned turkeys to an animal sanctuary, where "they will get the exercise and socialization that they need to live longer, happier lives."
In return, the group offered the president a feast of Tofu turkey, vegetarian stuffing and a vegan apple pie.
Just back from a trip to Asia, President Bush and his wife Laura are spending the holiday at Camp David before another international trip early next week to the Baltics and the Middle East.