What Do a Puppy, JFK, the Russians, and the Space Race Have in Common?

Posted by Krissy Howard
MIR Corp. 

There are about as many interesting facts about the Kennedy family as there are members, and the tale of JFK's dog, Pushinka, certainly makes the list! 

The story of the Kennedy family's dog begins with a Russian exploration in 1960, when Sputnik 5 was launched into space. Aboard the ship were mice, rats, a rabbit, some plants, and two dogs, named Belka and Strelka. Their safe return to Earth offered Russia a better understanding of what it would take to send humans into orbit, and with four feet back on the ground, Strelka's story went on to make history.

In a diplomatic effort from Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev, one of Strelka's puppies, named Pushinka, was gifted to the first family during their residency at the White House when she was only six months old.

Pushinka, of course, went on to be adored by the family, especially children Caroline Kennedy and John Jr., although according to the Presidential Pet Museum, the trio got off to a rocky start. Upon meeting Caroline while on a walk around the grounds, Pushinka allegedly growled at the girl, which prompted a kick from the small child. They apparently made up after the incident, and Caroline and her brother spent a good amount of time building better memories with the dog, like teaching Pushinka how to go down a playground slide.

Pushinka eventually had some puppies of her own, mating with the other household dog, a Welsh Terrier named Charlie. Named Butterfly, White Tips, Blackie, and Streaker, the litter was nicknamed "the Pupnicks" by JFK himself.


When news of the newborns reached the media, thousands of letters poured into the White House from residents around the country, each hoping to adopt a presidential dog for themselves. First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, personally selected two children to receive puppies, and the other two were given away to friends of the family.

Descendants of the Kennedy family dogs can still be found sniffing around today.

What do you think of this President John F. Kennedy history? Tell us in the comments below!

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What Do a Puppy, JFK, the Russians, and the Space Race Have in Common?