Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Nancy Reagan receives puppy for birthday

Longtime pal Merv Griffin gave Nancy Reagan a Shar-Pei puppy she named Dutchess in honor of her late husband, former President Reagan.

Griffin gave the puppy to Reagan for her 83rd birthday on July 6. The former talk show host shares a birthday with the former first lady - Griffin turned 79.

Reagan immediately named the 4-month-old puppy Dutchess in honor of the president, whose nickname was Dutch. The former president was 93 when he died June 5.

In a Fourth of July letter published in the Los Angeles Times, Reagan thanked everyone for the "extraordinary outpouring" of sympathy and love.

"So much has happened to warm the hearts of everyone in my family," she wrote. "It is not easy to find a way to express our appreciation. Ronnie would have said, 'Just tell them.' So, although it has been the saddest and most difficult of times, I want you to know that we are comforted by the prayers, the support and all the love."

Reagan is scheduled to participate in a July 23 ceremony for the USS Ronald Reagan, the nation's newest nuclear aircraft carrier, when it arrives at its San Diego home port.

It will be Reagan's first public appearance since her husband's burial June 11.

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