A Story of Jackie Kennedy’s Dog

This is Doctor Page, the best got to see on the worst day of your life. Today I have with me a new friend, Dr. Mark Bruce. Dr. Mark is the new author of a book, Jackie, a boy and a dog. It’s an interesting story about his relationship with Jackie Kennedy of all people. But we’re gonna talk a little bit about the book today. I want to go back and talk a little bit about Dr. Bruce.

How are you today? I’m doing great man. It’s great to see you.

Mark an ER physician. He’s very involved politically, with emergency room doctors. He’s, actually a works with the country of Belize and with Canada.

I’m, an ambassador for the American College of Emergency Physicians.

So anyway, so he’s very involved with his with his ER Association. I think we’re gonna start out a little bit and talk about some of your stories. Yeah I’ve heard a little bit about your story.

I want you to kind of tell us a little bit about. I know that you had a dog when you were a kid. Let’s start there. I mean, I know that you you you, your dog had an interesting accident when you’re, playing, bass, baseball and, and and through this, you kind of got a dog from Jackie Kennedy.

Just tell us a story. This is a great story yeah and this this dog, that I got my dog’s. Grandmother was the first dog that the Russians sent up in the Sputnik to come back alive, wow that was struck back in late 50s.

The early part of the space rings and the Soviets were pretty far ahead of the United States at that time and Strelka comes back. She has a litter of pups. One of those pups as pachinko bow chika, becomes a gift of state from premier Khrushchev to the Kennedy family at the 9th one be in the summit conference back in the day yeah and then the Kennedys entered the White House with just one dog that was Charlie.

The Welsh Terrier and Charlie was Jack’s favorite, he was Jack swimming companion and, and he really was – he was kind of the alpha dog of the of the kennels and he was he brought great solace to did the president during some of the Dark days of that administration, but Charlie falls in love with pashenka in the spring of 1963, and poosh inca has a litter of pups early summer that litter of pups was born about a week after my tragic accident that I had.

I I had a two great loves in life number one was was dogs, and you know the first words out of my mouth. I think where can I have a dog and my second great love was baseball and I love baseball. St. Louis Cardinals were mighty nice.

An all-american boy, yeah yeah and you know we were growing up in Central Missouri at the time. Stan usual was playing his last season and we had a big backyard. So we always had the games in the neighborhood in our yard, and so this one afternoon or early summer I didn’t know that my dog a was was out and she was just a little loyal companion.

She loved to play catch and so yep I was at bat. It was the perfect pitch was gonna hit it over the fence. She sees the ball. She comes running up to the plate. To get the ball. She’s been behind me because she thinks the balls for her.

As I’m swinging, she’s. Jumping up to get the ball. I hit her in the head and kill her Wow devastated absolutely devastated. I, for a week and after a week listening to Paul Harvey he’s, announcing they just had a litter of pups at the White House.

What are they gonna do with all those dogs? You had an idea and a client one man. I need a dog, nobody needs a dog more than I need a dog, and so I said, wrote a letter to the Kennedys and I said: hey I killed my dog.

Can I have? One of yours is a little bit more than that, but that was pretty much the gist of what I wrote and so what happened week later I get a letter back from the White House from one of Jackie’s, social secretaries, Nancy Tuckerman, and She says: well, we’re, really sorry to hear your sad story, but we’re, not going to give any of the dogs away well, I thought that was the end of it.

Little did. I know that for the next two months, the FBI’s, coming out to our neighborhood interviewing our neighbors swearing them to secrecy. Asking em gee is this kid killed any get anything else. We really like.

We find this out about two years later, but 18th of 1963 Sunday morning. We get a call and it’s, the White House on the phone I answered the phone, my dad was a minister, so he was already a church and this person on the phone says is master Bruce there.

Well Bruce. You know, and I wasn’t used to being called master around the house, so I thought she meant mister, but couldn’t figure out why she didn’t. Call him Reverend Bruce, like everybody else did.

I said no. He’s, not here. He’s already at church, but would you like to speak to my mom and she says yes, that’d, be fine and she identified herself as Evelyn Lincoln. The president’s, personal secretary and told my mom.

If Mark still wants a dog Kennedys have decided to get mark a dog. Well know. Whenever the president calls you don’t say no, and especially if it wan na give you something. Absolutely so I I got this dog they.

They flew it out to me a couple days later and I wrote a thank-you letter to to the Kennedy family primarily to Jackie, and you know I had good manners. Somebody does something nice, you say thank you, and so Jackie writes me back in September of 1963 early September, and she it’s.

A very personal handwritten letter about three pages long tells me a lot about what it’s like to at the White House and some of the behind-the-scenes things with the dogs and into the letter. Saying please stay in touch because we’ll, be interested in how everything turns out.

So we had actually planned a photo op in January of 64 because they were stopping Wow. John and Jackie were stopping on a campaign trip in Colombia. The Jack was killed two months before that, so that never happened, but I every every year or two I’d, write Jackie a letter and I’d, send her a picture and she would always write me back and she was.

It was, it was always just a very encouraging, a letter that she had for me and just she was a tremendous encouragement in terms of of my studies and my choice of profession and and just was used as an instrument of God’s.

Grace in my life well and really equipped me to be the same thing for so many people that I’ve touched around the world with my medical work. Hmm, it’s, amazing the impact it’s such a small thing. I mean from Jackie Kennedy standpoint: wasn’t, really a big deal to write you a letter, or maybe it was because with their busy schedule, but still what an impact just this, that small thing had in your life.

Absolutely you know, and here’s, the most iconic woman of the 20th century yeah that took time to pay attention to me and not just pay attention but write a letter, and you know you grow up with something it kind of seems fairly normal.

I didn’t think it was really too much out of the ordinary until it was probably when I was in college, it started to really dawn on me that you know this is. This is really a very special relationship, and you know none of my buddies in college were getting letters from Jack that’s, funny it just kind of kind of kind of normal to you from your perspective, yeah that letter she wrote me in.

I think it was in 1972. It was probably one of the most special letters that she sent me. I probably have about a dozen letters what it site over the 60, 70s and 80s. She said think, and I don’t know what I said in this letter.

I wish I had that, but but she says she said. Thank you so much for writing me. He says it was such a beautiful letter. I will keep it always well drop back memories of such happy times. Hmm, and so you know at that point is like.

Oh, my goodness, you know it was I and again I’ve written the Kennedy family and I ‘ Ve asked them if they archived any of her correspondence, but I’ve, never gotten a response. So what’s? Interesting to now I ‘

Ve got several nights. You’ve got pops, I’ve got masts best master. I got the dr. Bruce, I got master mark, but it’s. Interesting. You know, maybe you had you know. Maybe you were an encouragement to hurt a very dark time in her life.

Bring you back some, maybe some some good memories, yeah yeah! I I don’t know I don’t know what Chuck you know, and so you know it was. I found out. You know she died in 1994 and you know it was one of those situations where last few years that you know she was alive.

My life just got incredibly busy, and you know our correspondents started tailing off kind of really in the mid 80s after I kind of got out of the Navy and and started civilian practice, and you know having five kids and but even up until some of the Kids were born, you know, we would send them birth announcements and she would always write back and it was it was just always like I say I had streaker.

That was the name of the dog she gave me. I had streaker for over 17 years and he was just a great great pet. It was love at first sight whenever a fact her picture on the cover of my book is a picture of me taking him out of his shipping crate and yeah.

It was just he loved me and I loved him. You know it was. He was even my best pal for 17 years. So did streaker have any any pups yeah. We did made him and I matter of fact it was in the and they I think in 73 he had he sired a litter of three pups and and matter of fact, I offered one of those pups back to Jackie yeah and she she just very graciously Declined saying something for the fact that you know John would like to make every stray dog and cat New York his own.

We’ve reached our limit with three, and so I was at Baylor at the time, and I was a chemistry major and I was taking a physics course and my physics, professor, was Emeril Alexander and Morell. Dr. Alexander was part of the NASA program and the dental otter working.

He knew no, he knew all about the Soviet space program and about the space dogs and – and he didn’t – know about my connection with them until after class, one day after Jackie turned me down to to have her get one of the pups.

I went up to him after class and I said dr. Alexander, you know kind of told him my story and I said you know streaker just had a litter of pups. Would you like to have one of these pups and oh my gosh? He he was like, he just won the lottery, and I hated that did that that up your grade in that class.

Oh, that’s. Funny I mean that’s. A great I mean that’s, a great story and it’s, a great it’s, a great some great life, lessons that you’ve learned through that mark, and thanks for sharing that these are really Three great stories: man with things that we can, we can learn enough funny.

How often you know our life. I believe our life is a story that God creates. You know it talks about in Ephesians 2:10. It talks about how we are his workmanship and that that word is poema. It’s like we’re.

His story out, god, is writing out a story with our lives, and you know sometimes there’s, things that are that are fun to write about or have written about, Eliza’s other way. Other things about our story that we wouldn ‘

T really want God. Does we really don’t want to be written, but yet God is doing all those things and weaving all those things in for a purpose. Man, thanks for sharing your stories yeah, and I always sign my book when people ask me to sign the with first Peter 4:10.

What does it each of you should use the gifts you have been given to serve others faithfully, administering God’s. Grace Wow, we’ve, all been gifted hmm and it’s, a matter of us just putting our giftedness again at God’s.

Disposal and letting him use us as he sees fit and when you do that it’s, just amazing what happens well. Well, man. I appreciate you sharing not only your stories but your giftedness in this area. You know even going you know, going overseas and sharing your expertise and being put in situations that are kind of beyond your, your scope and your level of comfort.

I think that’s, one of the things that’s, so neat is to be stretched in that in that way, and – and then just sharing your story about Jackie, tell us: where can readers get your book and how can people? You know connect with you.

Thank you. Well, first of all, the book is available at any bookstore, Barnes and Noble. You can order it from them. You can order it from Amazon. We have a book website that really has got it’s got a chapter in the book, so you can kind of explore the book a little bit good, but the book website is jackie-boy dog.

com there you go it’s, easy yeah. It’s, got some media on it. Allottee automobiles did did a documentary on this story about a couple years ago and that little 9 minute clip is is linked up there and some of my other there’s.

Some other media. That’s, that’s linked up there, but there’s. A book web there’s, a bookstore right website, so that good, if you wanted to order it from the website there’s a way for me to actually personalize it there’s, a box there that you can ask Me how you would want me to sign it, and so it’s.

It’s available and there’s, a credit card availability on the website and obviously yeah there’s, actually links to Amazon to Barnes and Noble on the website too. So Jack’s, jackie-boy dog.com. So dr.

mark Bruce thanks for sharing that tell us kind of in this discussion. What’s next for you? Well, I’m, still working still paying the bills. Well, you know I I still I still enjoy what I do. I think I do a decent job at it, and but you know, I also realize that you know I am a grandfather now and getting pulled in other directions and trying to be a better husband than what I’ve been driving.

You know my wife is, my wife is tolerated, my you know, being away for so much and and then you’re riding on top of being an emergency room physician so trying to be a good husband trying to be a good good grandfather and Still parenting, my five children, you know you never quit being a parent.

Yes, I’ve realized. We are still involved with a lot of international work and, as you mentioned at the beginning, and the American College of Emergency Physicians ambassador to Belize and also to Canada, and so we’ve matter of fact.

Just about two months ago, we certified eight of our core group doctors and emergency medicine that we’ve, been training for ten years down there Wow. So you know we’ve. We’ve. They’re, almost like family to us now, yeah it’s, pretty gratifying in it.

Yes, great that’s, great well, listen! This is dr. mark Bruce. He is the author of Jackie, a boy and a dog, and we’ll, have the link to his website below, where you can click and get a signed autographed copy.

Just remember. I’m doctor page the best guy to see in the worst day of your life and just remember, to stay [, Music, ]

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