In these times of political debate, let’s take a look at something our presidential candidates seem to agree on … their love of dogs! But first, let’s take a look at the meaning behind this annual holiday.
The Origin of Checkers Day
Every year on September 23rd we celebrate Checkers Day, also known as Dogs In Politics Day. It all started in 1952 when Richard Nixon was running for Vice President with Dwight Eisenhower. During the campaign, the media raised speculation about an $18,000 contribution and the possibility that Nixon may have spent some for personal use.
Nixon addressed this concern in a speech he gave on September 23, 1952. He assured the American people that he did not use the funds for personal use. But toward the end of the speech, he did state that his daughters received a dog named Checkers as a gift, but that they would be keeping the dog. The speech became known as the “Checkers Speech” and won the hearts of dog lovers.
Since that time, much attention has been paid to our politicians and their dogs, especially of those in the White House. So who could become the next paws on the White House lawn?
Donald Trump’s “Spinee”
The softer side of Donald Trump will reveal the adoration and attention he lavishes on his labrador retriever, Spinee. Last year, while coming under fire for some of his actions or comments, he took the time to ask for prayers when Spinee was undergoing a risky surgery, which he has since recovered from.
Hillary Clinton’s “Tally” and “Maisie”
Long time dog lovers, the Clintons purchased Tally, a black and white toy poodle mix, to add some companionship and energy to their then senior lab, Seamus, a chocolate lab who has since passed. Some believe Tally to be a shih tzu/toy poodle mix about 6 years old. Maisie also appears to be a poodle mix and is possibly named after the main character in one of Hillary’s favorite books, Maisie Dobbs.
It’s a long-standing tradition to have dogs in the White House. Over half of all U.S. presidents owned at least one dog during their terms, which makes you wonder how the grass stays so green!
Some are well remembered, but not always because of their decorum. For instance, Teddy Roosevelt’s dog managed to rip the pants off the French ambassador while Lyndon Johnson’s relieved himself in front of the Shah of Iran. If only there were cell phones to catch those moments in history.
So what makes a dog White House material? The president of the United States needs a dog who is confident, friendly and calm with people of all ages; who is comfortable in a busy household; and one who is able to adapt easily to change.
Whether purebred or mutt, dogs have been humanizing presidents for centuries. No matter who enters the White House next, having a dog will make him or her seem more like the rest of us. Or as Harry S. Truman famously said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
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