In honor of Mother’s Day, CONELRAD thought it would celebrate a mom who has remained in the shadows of history for far too long. We are referring to Lady Boots of Burnside, the mother of the most famous canine in political history—Checkers. Lady Boots has been referenced in a few media stories about her more famous offspring over the years, but never with much specificity.
Lady Boots of Burnside, a cocker spaniel, was given to Beatrice Carrol as a watchdog/companion by her husband, Lou, in 1951. A little over a year later, the Carrols took Boots to a breeder where she was introduced to a male dog named Ace. In June of 1952 Boots gave birth to a litter of eight or nine puppies including the one who would soon become internationally famous as Richard Nixon’s career savior.
Shortly after the Republican National Convention in ‘52, Lou Carrol had heard about Pat Nixon’s desire to get a dog for her daughters. Carrol, a Texas-based District Manager for a company that sold school equipment, immediately wired Nixon’s Senate office with an offer of a free puppy. The rest, of course, is history. Nixon’s nationally broadcast September 23, 1952 speech defending himself against accusations of a slush fund included a strategic reference to a certain cocker spaniel that helped save his Veep spot on General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s ticket. Checkers went on to become a lasting political touchstone. But what happened to her mother?
It turns out that Lady Boots of Burnside outlived—physically if not symbolically—her better known daughter. Checkers died in 1964 during her master’s political oblivion, but was still afforded the rare honor of a New York Times obituary.
Lady Boots passed away shortly before Nixon’s hard-fought election to the presidency in November of 1968. The Carrol family shared with CONELRAD the following undated obituary from the Bloomington Herald-Telephone: