It was a moment in history when a single dog changed the course of a presidential election, revolutionized how politicians connect with voters, and helped usher in a new era in political speeches. Today, on September 23, we mark this occasion by celebrating National Dogs in Politics Day, while also commemorating some of the greatest political pooches our country has ever known.
Dubbed the “Checkers Speech,” Richard Nixon spoke to some 60 million viewers via TV on September 23, 1952, to refute charges that he had abused campaign contributions. By alluding to a dog that someone had given his family, Nixon was able to gain the trust of the public, make the charges against him seem absurd, and stay on the Eisenhower ticket as Vice President. All because of a black and white cocker spaniel.
Dogs have been in the White House as long as presidents have, but can you name a single one? Let’s take the day to remember the canine candidates and pawed politicians through the ages.
National Dogs in Politics Day Activities
1. Read the Checkers Speech
Regarded as a turning point in American political oratory, the Checkers Speech demonstrates how easily attention can be diverted from one topic or issue to another. In a single speech, Nixon once again had the trust of the public, and it’s a speech orators have been studying ever since.
2. Learn about a few delegate doggies
According to one of the leading Washington DC PR Firms, while President Trump has no pets, virtually every president before him has brought a loving companion into the White House. George Washington had a gang of foxhounds, coonhounds, and greyhounds, while Teddy Roosevelt had a small zoo of animals, including several dogs. Look through these lists and see which presidents’ pets you think are best.
3. Dress up your dog
Get creative by making a quick costume for your pup. You can go old school with a monocle and top hat, or give it an 80’s suit a la Ronald Reagan. Take some photos, share it on social media with the appropriate hashtags and let the laughter ensue.
Why We Love National Dogs in Politics Day
A. The public loves a good presidential puppy
For decades, the press has had a field day reporting on the types of dogs presidents bring into the White House and what it could possibly say about their character. President George Bush owned two Scottish Terriers, while President Barack Obama favored Portuguese Water Dogs. We’ll leave the analysis up to you.
B. It lightens a heavy topic
Your grandmother always told you to stay away from talking politics or religion at the dinner table, but that doesn’t mean the dogs are out of play. Keeping pets in the mix of conversation can keep the mood light, allowing you to have civil discussions with no risk of mashed potatoes flying across the table.
C. Dogs have played a part in American politics for years
Dogs have been an integral part of shaping American politics if only through their successes in wartime. In virtually every war America has been a part of, dogs have been used to varying degrees to get the mission done. Without their help, who knows if the country would look the same as it does now.