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UK, Nixon Go to the Dogs

Greetings, America.

Richard Nixon has been in the news again. Yes, your late President has hit the headlines even in Britain this week, seven years after his death and almost thirty after the ignominious end to his presidency. Why? Because we're a nation of dog lovers -- that's why; and we read the news about Checkers, the Nixon family's black and white cocker spaniel.

You may remember that 49 years ago, Checkers was credited with saving Nixon's career when the then senator, soon to be Dwight Eisenhower's vice president, faced accusations that he had accepted money from a slush fund, and went on TV to say the only undeclared present his family had ever received was little Checkers and he wasn’t about to give up the family doggie. Well, half a century on, we were delighted to hear that the former President and his pooch are to be reunited. As you may have heard, Checkers is being exhumed from a pet cemetery in Long Island, New York, to be reburied alongside his master at the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. In Britain, this counts as a heart-warming story, not so much because we care about Tricky Dicky as because we care about dogs.

In this country, every third family has one, they come in all shapes and sizes and with some pretty strange names. Once upon a time they were called things like Rover and Bonzo and Butch. Our family mongrel thought he was called Down Boy. These days, however, more and more dogs are getting celebrity names – with Britney and Beckam currently the English favorites. We know that our dogs are being named after America’s star singer and Britain’s top soccer player because our leading animal charity has just conducted a comprehensive survey on the subject. Meanwhile, in the national census that we’ve just had here, organized by the government, a million and more citizens have so far failed to complete the form – even though it’s compulsory. But with the simultaneous DOG survey, no such problems. There was a 99 percent turnout. We know our priorities.