Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Irish-American President and His Dogs

Today I am going to tell you about the First Dogs that were in the White House when John F. Kennedy was president.  And there were a whole bunch of them because Mr. Kennedy and his family really liked dogs.

But first, since it's St. Patrick's Day, I will say "Top o' the mornin'!" (whatever that means), and then I will share these nice pictures of Gabe and me that Mom took especially for St. Patrick's Day.  And what you will see in these photos is how cute and festive we look wearing the special shamrock necklaces that Mom bought last week at the grocery store for $1.69.  Mom wore these necklaces in the parade last Saturday, and then she decided she should take our pictures with them so that she could get her money's worth out of them.  Hahahaha!

Okay, so now we can talk about President Kennedy and his dogs.  Mr. Kennedy's great-grandfather, whose name was Patrick Kennedy, came to America from Ireland in 1849.  The Kennedys lived in the Boston area, and they were in politics and stuff, so most everybody knew who they were.  

John F. Kennedy was born in 1917, and he went to Harvard, and then he was in the Navy during World War II, and his boat got sunk, but he didn't drown.  Then after the war, he got into politics.  First he was in the House, and then he was in the Senate, and then he got elected President of the United States.  And when that happened, he was only 43 years old, so he was the youngest person ever to be elected president.  And also he was the first Catholic to be president and the first Irish-American.

A whole bunch of interesting and scary things happened while Mr. Kennedy was the president, like for instance the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis and the space race and the civil rights movement and the start of the Vietnam War.  But I'm not going to talk about any of that stuff because it's way too complicated to write about in a blog.  And besides, I only care about the Kennedys' dogs.

So here's a photo of the family when they were on vacation with their dogs.  That black German Shepherd in the back was Mrs. Kennedy's dog, and he was named Clipper.  And Caroline, the little girl in front, is petting her Welsh Terrier, whose name was Charlie.  And lying down right behind Caroline is the Irish Wolfhound, Wolf.  Then in the back, with President Kennedy, you can see the little boy, John John, and he is petting Shannon, the Irish spaniel.  And Mrs. Kennedy is holding some puppies which I will tell you about in a minute.

Charlie, the Welsh terrier, was the alpha dog of the family.  He growled at the other dogs if they tried to get in front of him at dinner time.  Also he liked to go swimming in the pool with President Kennedy.  And another thing that Charlie sometimes did was he would pee on people if they weren't paying enough attention to him.

Wolf, the wolfhound, was a gift from a priest in Dublin whose name was also Kennedy.  Shannon was given to the family by Prime Minister Eamonn deValera of Ireland.  And the dog with Charlie in the photo below is Pushinka.  Her name means "fluffy" in Russian, and she was a gift to Caroline from the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.  He gave her this dog after the Cuban Missile Crisis to try to make everybody feel happier and less afraid that there would be a war.

Later on, when he was all grown up, John Jr. said that one of his earliest memories was playing with Pushinka and teaching her to slide down the slide in back of the White House.  Then, guess what!   Pushinka and Charlie had puppies, and the names of the puppies were Butterfly, White Tips, Blackie, and Streaker.  And all the puppies were given away to people who could give them nice homes.

The Kennedys also liked other animals besides dogs.  Mrs. Kennedy had two horses, and Caroline had a horse and a pony.  John Jr. also had a pony.  And here is a list of the other pets that the family owned:  a cat, a canary, 2 parakeets, 2 hamsters, and a rabbit.  

Well, as you probably know, President Kennedy got shot in November, 1963, and this made him the youngest man to die while he was president.  Mom can remember when this happened because she was in the 6th grade then, but it was way before I was even born, so I don't remember it.  We are pretty sure that the Kennedys went on having dogs and other animals after that, but Mrs. Kennedy tried to keep the reporters away from the children, so there is not much information about their dogs after they left the White House.

Anyway, St. Patrick's Day seemed like a good time to think about Mr. Kennedy and his dogs.  And we should also remember that famous saying of his, which I have changed just a tiny bit:  "Ask not what your dog can do for you -- ask what you can do for your dog."

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