Dogs in Politics day originated in 1955, when President Richard Nixon mentioned his dog, a black-and-white spotted Cocker Spaniel named Checkers, in a speech broadcast to the nation. Nixon was using a televised broadcast to dispel improprieties relating to a fund established by his backers to reimburse him for his political expenses. The speech took a turn when Nixon began talking about his adorable dog that he and the rest of the Nixons were clearly in love with.
It was in this speech that Nixon stated that regardless of what anyone said, he intended to keep one gift; a black-and-white dog that had been name Checkers by the Nixon children, thus giving the speech its popular name.
The “Checkers Speech” was seen, or heard, by about 60 million Americans, including the largest television audience to that time and it led to an outpouring of public support.
“A man down in Texas heard Pat [Nixon’s wife] on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was?
“It was a little Cocker Spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and hite spotted. And our little girl — Tricia, the six-year old —named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”
From that day on, Dogs in Politics has been celebrated on Sept. 23 each year, and all because of a tiny little cocker spaniel named Checkers.