September 11, 2015 | Posted in 1st Doggies

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President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy loved dogs and several spent time with him in the White House. There was Clipper, a German Shepherd; Wolf, an Irish Wolfhound; and Shannon, an Irish Spaniel.

But his favorite was a Welsh terrier named Charlie, who was technically his children’s dog. Charlie was a distant relative of the dog who played “Asta” in the “Thin Man” series. He swam with the President, and Kennedy was the first President to ask that Charlie and his other dogs be trained to greet him on the White House lawn when he arrived home by helicopter. Subsequent Presidents all adopted this policy with their own dogs.

Charlie’s biggest role was during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. He’s credited with helping prevent a war between Russia and the U.S. at that time. When the understandably troubled Kennedy had to decide how to respond to the crisis, he asked for Charlie to be brought to him in the hectic War Room. He held the terrier on his lap a while, visibly relaxing as he did so, and then said he was “ready to make some decisions.”

As a peace offering following the crisis, then-Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave young Caroline Kennedy a mixed breed, pretty white puppy named Pushinka. The dog’s bloodline was impressive, though. She was a daughter of famed space dog Strelka, part of the Sputnik space program. Pushinka and Charlie had four puppies that the President called “pupniks.”

Lovable as Charlie and Pushinka appeared in photos, an adult Caroline Kennedy would later recall that they pretty much tried to nip at anyone they encountered during their White House days.