A bright spot during the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union was Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s gift of a fluffy white mixed-breed puppy to little Caroline Kennedy.
Pushinka, Russian for “Fluffy,” was a puppy of Strelka, a Soviet space dog that orbited the planet aboard Sputnik 2 in 1960.
The Presidential Pet Museum has found news accounts stating that Pushinka, then 6 months old, even arrived with her own Russian passport — listing her as “a non-bred type.”
The puppy Pushinka was welcomed into the family of White House pets during the John F. Kennedy administration. In fact, Pushinka and Caroline Kennedy’s Welsh terrier Charlie had four puppies together. You can read about their puppies here.
In a television interview with Larry King in 1995, the late John F. Kennedy Jr. recalled that he and his sister, Caroline, taught Pushinka how to go down the slide on the playground behind the White House. “Sending the dog down that slide is probably my first memory,” he shared.
“A Swift Kick to the Rear End”
Apparently Pushinka had a somewhat prickly nature.
In his book American Legacy: The Story of John and Caroline Kennedy, author David Heymann relates a story from White House nanny Maud Shaw: Caroline and her nanny encountered Pushinka as she was being walked by a kennel worker on the White House grounds. As Caroline reached to pet the dog, Pushinka growled.
“Instead of recoiling, Caroline stepped behind the dog and gave it a swift kick to the rear end,” Heymann writes. “Emitting a howl, Pushinka turned tail and raced off into the night.
When Shaw related the story to JFK, the president smiled at his daughter and said, ‘That’s giving it to those damn Russians!’”