John F Kennedy and His Dogs

President John F. Kennedy loved dogs and owned many different breeds during his
time as a politician.

It's common to see the former President photographed with breeds such as his
German Shepherd and Irish Wolfhound, and seemed to prefer to be seen with
"masculine" breeds.

Pushinka became one of the President's most popular dogs while he was in office.

She was a mongrel, which is unusual for a President's pet, and was given to Mr. Kennedy as a gift by the Soviet Premier Khrushchev. You might think it's a little strange, or even insulting, that the gift was a mongrel rather than an expensive or rare purebred, but Pushinka was actually a puppy from Pushok and Strelka, two of the Russian space dogs. As you'd expect, Pushinka was thoroughly frisked to check for any hidden "bugs" that might have been planted by the Soviet Union. It was the Cold War after all!

Despite her origins, Pushinka became a true part of the Kennedy household. She even went on to have puppies with Charlie, Mr. Kennedy's Welsh terrier. These puppies were affectionately known as "pupniks." According to many reports, Pushinka could climb a ladder to the President's daughter's tree house (perhaps she was trying to emulate her mom) which often made the President laugh.

Pushinka was probably Mr. Kennedy's most interesting dog, purely because of where she came from. Even so, he had many more pets, including a German shepherd, Irish Cocker Spaniel and Irish Wolfhound. Charlie the terrier was another favorite dog, and was often photographed with the President on the lawns of the White House. Mr. Kennedy asked for some of his dogs to be trained to greet him on returning in a helicopter, as this often made for great photo opportunities.

Charlie appears to have played a part in the prevention of war between the US and Russia. During the Cuban missile crisis the President was having a vital meeting with his staff in the War Room. With the world teetering on the edge of war, instead of making an instant decision, Mr. Kennedy called for Charlie to be brought to him. After playing with the dog, the President eventually relaxed. This, according to other staff members who were present, helped him make the right choices and prevent a world war!

President John F. Kennedy owned a variety of dogs that ranged in size, temperament and appearance, so it's clear he was a true dog lover. While he wasn't averse to using the dogs as a media tool, there's no doubt that he truly loved the animals. Pushinka was a gift that it would have been rude to turn down, so we don't know whether Mr. Kennedy would have ever chosen a mixed or cross breed dog if given the choice. The President's larger dogs, such as Clipper the German shepherd, were the ones used in most of the photography sessions, as these dogs had a much more imposing and impressive appearance than Pushinka.