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Archive for January 24th, 2009

Chirac attack: Mauled by his own Maltese

Former French president Jacques Chirac was rushed to the hospital this weekend after being bitten by his own dog — a “clinically depressed” Maltese.

The 76-year-old statesman was bitten by his dog Sumo, who has been being treated with anti-depressants.

Chirac who ruled France for 12 years until 2007, was taken to a hospital in Paris where he was treated as an outpatient and sent home.

“The dog went for him for no apparent reason,” Chirac’s wife, Bernadette, said. “My husband was bitten quite badly, but he is certain to make a full recovery over the coming weeks.'”

The pet, named after the Japanese form of wrestling, was a gift to the Chiracs from their grandson Martin, according to London’s Daily Mail.

The dog who saved Nixon

The No. 1 rule for a website, most will tell you, is to write short. We at ohmidog! have never been too fond of rules. Today, with all the hubbub about Obama’s yet-to-be-named dog, with gift dog offers pouring in to the Obama family, we travel back in time to look at another dog gifted to a politician, how that gift came to be given, and how Checkers, arguably the most famous dog in politics, rescued Richard Nixon’s career. This article  originally appeared in the Baltimore Sun on Sept. 22, 2002.

She taught music. He was a traveling salesman. They never gained much fame. But, with help from their cocker spaniel Boots, they may have changed the course of history.

Had Beatrice Carrol not been hired to teach piano at a women’s college in Texas, had Lou Carrol not picked up a newspaper to read during another lonely dinner on the road, had Boots not been paired up with a stud named Ace and given birth to a litter of black and white cockers two months before the Republican National Convention in 1952, Richard Nixon — it could be argued — might never have been president.

It was the Carrols who — back when TVs were black and white and Communists were “Reds” — gave the Nixon family the puppy they would name Checkers.

And it was Checkers who provided the sentimental hook in a speech that helped the then-U.S. senator from California secure his role as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice presidential running mate.

Nixon’s “Fund Speech,” better known as his Checkers speech — given 50 years ago tomorrow — was historic on several levels. It was the first time a politician, bypassing news organizations, made a direct appeal to the public on television. The speech was watched by the largest audience TV had ever amassed. And, most historians now agree, it resulted in Eisenhower turning around a decision — all but made, Nixon found out shortly before going on the air — to remove him from the ticket.

But like so much else when it comes to the man who would later serve as the nation’s 37th president, the Checkers story is full of contradictions.

Nixon barely knew the dog when he gave the speech. He implied she was a surprise when, in fact, his staff had known about the planned gift for more than a month. And, in the speech, he both got her gender wrong and incorrectly stated where she had been picked up.

Those discrepancies — granted, not as alarming as an 18 1/2 -minute gap on a White House tape recording — never got the kind of scrutiny that Nixon would in 1974, when the Watergate scandal and investigation led to his resignation as president.

For Lou Carrol, “that whole Watergate mess” made for some uncomfortable times, as well. While he had remained in relative obscurity, while he had never boasted about his gift to Nixon, he became, after that, hesitant to mention it at all.

To this day, few know he is the “man down in Texas” Nixon referred to in the speech. Other than appearing on two TV quiz shows in the 1950s — I’ve Got a Secret and What’s My Line? — Carrol never received much publicity. “Nor,” he says, “was I seeking it.

“It was just one of those things you do spontaneously. There’s a joy in doing that kind of thing,” he said. “Every time I’d see those children — those pictures of them and the dog and how happy they looked — it put a smile on my face.”

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