10 Dogs Who Made History


Charlie Helps with the Cuban Missile Crisis

Kennedy, Charlie, dog
President John F. Kennedy indulges in a bit of play with the family's Welsh terrier Charlie at the Presidential retreat in Glen Ora, Virginia, 1962. Bettmann/Getty Images

John F. Kennedy was a big fan of dogs, and during his short tenure at the White House, the president and his family had several. Yet, there was one, a Welsh terrier named Charlie, who had a profound impact on the history of the world.

In October 1962, the globe stood on the brink of nuclear war after the Soviet Union deployed several intercontinental ballistic missiles on the island of Cuba, 90 miles (144 kilometers) off the U.S. coastline. It was a tumultuous time not only for the world, but for Kennedy whose goal was to get the missiles out of Cuba without igniting a nuclear war.

Charlie sat on the president's lap in the White House "war room" as Kennedy decided what actions to take. The president gently petted the dog as the crisis unfolded and then said he was "ready to make some decisions." Those in the room said the dog had a calming effect on Kennedy, who navigated the crisis to a successful conclusion [sources: Wolfstoria, Bougerol].