Today is National Dog Day, and Americans do love their dogs, no matter what their politics. My friends are posting about taking their canine companions to Doggy Spas and all sorts of Doggy treats. We are also in the midst of a very divisive election time; the mud is flying. Friend vs friend, brother vs brother in this tumultuous time. Ah but there is one family member we can all love, the First Dog.
Since the dawn of our great republic the president’s dog has played a major roll. In the darkest hours of any presidency the First Dog is always there to comfort the president.
President Roosevelt allegedly left his dog on a trip to the Aleutian Islands the sent out an expensive search party to find it. When the press attacked him on it he said “"you can criticize me, my wife and my family, but you can't criticize my little dog. He's Scotch and all these allegations about spending all this money have just made his little soul furious." This Speech is accredited in helping him get reelected.
We, as a nation, have favored a president with populist bent. President Nixon made his career changing “Checkers” speech winning the hearts of the country. When accusations of receiving illegal gifts came up he said he got one gift, Checkers, and not giving the dog back, the country loved it.
President Johnson was attacked severely by the country over a picture of him picking up his hound dog by the ears. Maybe a preview of his demise. We should have known!
History was made when Nikita Khrushchev made a gift to his rival. President Kennedy was given a one of Strelka’s, the Soviet Space dog, puppies. Pushinka became one of the first family dogs. Her offspring also dwelled in the presidential home. The Kennedy White House was also home many pets, including one of the countries most photographed ponies, Macaroni. We would not see young children or their pets in the White House for many years.
As with the off spring of Pushinka, there have been others “born into royalty”. Gerald Ford’s loyal Golden Retriever gave birth to Misty who now had the royal lineage.
President Reagan had a several dogs. He loved having many animals around him as did Nancy. Ronald Reagan may be the last US President to own and ride a horse, El Alamein. To me this tells the whole story. Easy to love a man on a white horse!
The first dog often held a grave and uniquely important position, one which goes unrewarded. In times of great national and personal stress it was often the First Dog the President confided with. I imagine many a national security issue was discussed with the First Dogs who actually had to the top clearance. I can see FDR sitting up late pondering going to war with Fala. President Truman faced one of the toughest decisions in history, one that no matter which way he many would die. I can see him walking with Feller going over the impending dilemma to drop the first nuclear weapon. Feller probably had more top secret info than you can imagine. Likewise, I bet JFK took canine counsel during the Cuban Missile crisis and his family in their darkest hours.
During personal crisis the president has “gone to the dogs” for comfort. President Clinton said Buddy was his only friend during the Monika incident. His family chastised him, the country angered or laughed but Buddy was there by his side. President Bush (W) loved ol Barney and the dog was loyal, the press was not. Barney took matters into his own paws as it where and bit one obnoxious reporter, good for Barney.
President Obama is the only president to enter the White House without a dog. Seeing the error of his ways one of his first presidential actions was to bring Bo into the oval office, soon followed by Sunny. The President made a compelling speech, one of many, saying he wanted a dog that was a mutt like himself, a mixture symbolizing the American people.
I have often wished the USA had a monarchy, someone we can all love and raise a glass to. Maybe I am wrong, maybe we should tip the tumbler to the First Dogs, who no matter what your politics are loved by all. I propose there be a National Monument to the First Dogs of the US. So on this National Dog Day, let us all give thanks to the dogs that have served our country’s leaders. Cheers!
(photo credit unknown, Wikipedia)
Make Your Dream Your Story
Capt. Brian Calvert