September 23: Dogs in Politics Day

dogsinpoliticsday

The most unusual origin of a September calendar date is that of Dogs in Politics. On September 23, 1952, vice president candidate Richard Nixon gave a televised and radio-broadcast speech to refute charges that he had used campaign funds for personal use. In what’s known as the “Checkers Speech,” Nixon stated that he intended to keep one gift, a donation that had been sent to his family as a personal gift: a black-and-white dog that had been named Checkers by the Nixon children, thus giving the speech its popular name.

“A man down in Texas heard Pat [Nixon’s wife] on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was?

“It was a little Cocker Spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl — Tricia, the six-year old — named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

Link to the Checkers part of the speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqjwBDH-vhY&feature=youtu.be&t=17m47s

The “Checkers Speech” was seen or heard by about 60 million Americans, amounting to the largest television audience of that time. The dog, Checkers, died in 1964, and was buried in Bide-a-Wee Pet Cemetery, located in Long Island, NY. As to how to best celebrate this day, how about educating yourself about political pets? President Adams’ Alligator and Other White House Pets is a good children’s book to start with, and there are many other books on the topic.

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