It bit everyone, – says Caroline Kennedy, recalling the Russian dog gifted to the Kennedys by Nikita Khrushchev. Talking on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s presidency, Caroline said she remembers the dog very well.
On his visit to the United States in 1961 the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev has presented John Kennedy with a Russian puppy named Pushinka (bit of fluff), a daughter of the Russian space dogs Pushok and Strelka.
It was always believed that Pushinka stayed happily with the Kennedy family for many years and was coupled with another Kennedy’s dog Charlie. They had four puppies named White Tips, Blackie, Butterfly, and Streaker.
Now Caroline recalls that the Kennedys in fact didn’t know how to get rid of Pushinka because it “bit everyone she met”. Finally, a White House gardener has taken the bad-mannered Russian space dogs’ daughter to his place.
Caroline smiled at Jon’s joke that the Russian Dog could have been a KGB agent, and said that actually Pushinka was pretty cute.
According to BBC, Caroline Kennedy who is now the US ambassador to Japan, later recalled some additional details.
“My mother told a funny story, – Caroline said. – She was sitting next to Khrushchev at a state dinner in Vienna. She ran out of things to talk about, so she asked about the dog, Strelka, that the Russians had shot into space. During the conversation, my mother asked about Strelka’s puppies.”
“A few months later, a puppy arrived and my father had no idea where the dog came from and couldn’t believe my mother had done that.”
The puppy was Strelka’s daughter, Pushinka, listed on her official registration certificate as a “non-breed” or mongrel.
Kennedy’s has sent a letter to Khrushchev thanking him for the gift.
Pushinka soon settled in to the White House according to Traphes Bryant, one of the staff who looked after her.
“Pushinka could climb a ladder up to Caroline’s playhouse. She’d get up to the top of this little platform and then she would slide down the metal chute,” Bryant told the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
“President Kennedy asked me how I taught [her]… I told President Kennedy I moved a peanut up step by step. He laughed when I showed him the pictures.
“Caroline once told me, ‘Bryant, don’t feed Pushinka peanuts. The vet said it wasn’t good for Pushinka’. I quit the peanut feeding.”
One of the Kennedys’ other dogs, Charlie, took a shine to Pushinka.
“I was so excited when it had puppies with my Welsh terrier because I got to name the puppies – Blackie, White Tips , Butterfly, and one more,” says Ambassador Kennedy – the last one was called Streaker.
The president called them “the pupniks”.