On a Spaniel Puppy

Pat’s two daughters desperately wanted a dog. The problem was that kids under the age of 10 usually don’t understand the responsibility to come with pet ownership. All the girls knew was that puppies were cute, and they did not have one. Pat asked her husband about getting a dog for the girls, but he, as usual, didn’t really seem too interested in that issue. The household, after all, was his wife’s domain.

So, Pat mentioned to some people that if an appropriate animal could be found, she would like to get a dog, preferably a pup, for her daughters. The family lived in the metropolitan Baltimore, Maryland area, and, like a lot of young families in the early 1950s, they were living the American Dream. Pat’s husband was a veteran of World War II, like many of their friends, and he had gotten a government job in the Baltimore area after the war. The family moved there from California.

One day, Pat received word that a package had arrived for them down at the Baltimore train station, and the family drove down there in their station wagon to see what it was. Lo and behold, it was a crate, inside of which was a black-and-white spaniel puppy. The girls were ecstatic. Pat’s husband shrugged sheepishly and said he guessed that they could keep it if he didn’t have to do anything with it. The look on the girls’ faces told Pat that the family had a new addition.

Pat’s husband, by the way, was in some trouble at work at that time. Some of his acquaintances had accused him of mishandling government funds and even of taking bribes. To defend himself, her husband made an official statement saying very clearly that the family lived a very middle-class existence and that no fiscal malfeasance had taken place. He added, however, that the family did receive one gift: The spaniel puppy. He was also adamant that, because the girls loved the dog so much, that they would not be returning the dog.

The statement by the man was so sincere, and the sweet references to the girls and the puppy seemed so sweet and down-to-earth, that it served to erase all doubts that Pat’s husband was anything but an honest government employee.

Indeed, some people say that this speech by Richard Nixon saved his career.


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