Here’s how Yorba Linda wants to honor Checkers, President Nixon’s dog

YORBA LINDA – Checkers Dog Park, in reference to President Richard Nixon’s cocker spaniel, is the top name the Parks and Recreation Commission is recommending to the City Council for Yorba Linda’s first place for pooches to play.

Commissioner Carlos Rodriguez said he was struck by the historic reference of the name.

“That’s one of the probably most notable aspects of our community in Yorba Linda – the library and with President Nixon and that famous speech talking about his beloved Checkers,” Rodriguez said at the March 16 meeting.

In 1952, during Nixon’s campaign with Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the then senator gave a televised response to accusations about improper use of a fund for reimbursing his political expenses. He told those listening he should probably mention a gift received after an election. A Texas man heard Pat Nixon mention their daughters wanted a dog and sent the black-and-white cocker spaniel to the family.

“And our little girl – Tricia, the 6-year-old – named it Checkers,” he said. “And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog. And I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

That line was well received and the speech has since been dubbed “The Checkers Speech.” It is considered one of the first effective uses of television in politics.

Checkers never lived in the White House. He died in 1964, four years before Nixon was elected president. Nixon’s presidential pooches included King Timahoe, an Irish setter; Vicky, a poodle; and Pasha, a Yorkshire Terrier.

The alternate name for the dog park planned on a half-acre upper slope at Jean Woodard Park is Bark Park. The name will be chosen at a future City Council meeting.

More than 400 suggestions were received from the community for what to name the long-awaited dog park, which will feature double entry gates for corralling the pooches, a handicap accessible parking lot and street parking.

The park is…

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