The four-legged “Spy” that ended the Cold War

the kennedy's and their dogs

When the Kennedy family moved into the White House in 1961, they brought with them a cat called Tom Kitten, a canary named robin, and a welsh terrier who they called Charlie. 

Of all the horses, deer, hamsters, rabbits, and parakeets that were later gifted to the president, Charlie remained his favorite. 

Kennedy would request that Charlie waited on the lawn whenever he arrived in his presidential helicopter and the two were known to do laps together in the presidential pool. 

Charlie was the only dog of the house until Jackie Kennedy made small talk with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev about his dog, Strelka, the first dog sent into space by the Russians, at a state dinner. A few months later, a little white puppy showed up at the door of the White House. It was one of Strelka’s puppies, called Pushinka (meaning: fluffy) — a gift from Khrushchev.

Pushinka has been famously accused of being a Russian spy, despite being examined for hidden listening devices, microphones, and bombs. But the Kennedys drew a liking to Pushinka. Even Charlie was won over by her, so much so that the two had a litter of puppies together that the president called “the pupniks”.

Over the years, Khrushchev and Kennedy continued to exchange gifts. Many believe the communication between the two leaders, including gifts like Pushinka, helped put an end to the cold war. 

“In the end,” he says, “that’s what saved the world from nuclear destruction,”

 said historian, Martin Sandler. 

Who knew a little white dog could have such a big impact on the world. 

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