Astro, Benji, Checkers: Famous Dogs Of The '50s, '60s And '70s

By | May 23, 2018

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Veterok, one of two dogs (the other was Ugoloik) launched into space by the Soviets in 1966. This pair of pups set the record for longest stretch in space, at 22 days. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The house with the picket fence, the two car garage, some whole number of kids and a pooch in the yard -- that was the American dream of the postwar years. Dogs were plentiful; and in this age of dogs, famous dogs thrived. There were dogs in the White House, dogs in space, dogs of war, dogs in cartoons, dogs with their own movie franchise and officially licensed thermos and lunchbox set.

During the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, numerous dogs proved that they are man’s best friend through their heroic deeds, by servicing as goodwill ambassadors, or by simply entertaining us. These canine celebrities have earned a place in our hearts. Whether real or fictional, the pooches of the '50s, '60s, and '70s are representatives of their era and their fascinating stories give us a glimpse in to life in the sixties and seventies.

Checkers Was The Most Famous Dog In Politics

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Richard M. Nixon plays with his family's black and white cocker spaniel "Checkers". Source:

Checkers, a cocker spaniel owned by Richard Nixon, helped to keep his owner’s political career intact and his White House aspirations alive, though, sadly, he didn’t live to see Nixon win the presidency in 1969. Without Checkers, Nixon may never have achieved the pinnacle of politics. In fact, Nixon, the Republican vice presidential nominee and running mate of Eisenhower, was poised to fall out of political favor among the American public after being accused of benefiting from a trust fund that was established for a future Senate campaign. Eisenhower was ready to drop Nixon from the ticket. Then came the 1952 “Checkers Speech” in which Nixon denied any wrong doing. Nixon included references to his dog, Checkers, a gift from a political supporter, noting how much he and his family loved the dog and announced his intention to keep the pooch. That single dog reference helped to bolster Nixon’s credibility. After the speech, Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie, told her husband that any man who loves his dog that much must be an honest man. Nixon’s political career was saved and Checkers went on to enjoy a degree of celebrity throughout the early 1960s, until his death at age 13 in 1964.