Not since JFK’s Camelot has a happy presidential issue been as newsworthy as the choice of what puppy the Obamas are going to choose to assuage their guilt over not spending enough time with their kids during the past endless campaign.
The reasons people decide to own a dog are just slightly less neurotic than their reasons for having children. But we’ll leave that little age-old dilemma to Malia and Natasha’s future therapists. I’ll stick with what I know, which is dogs.
The Obamas’ decision to acquire a dog was as inevitable as the Washington Nationals languishing in last place. With few exceptions, every administration has had some sort of canine affiliation, whether notable for its brevity – as in the case of the Grits the dog being kicked out of the Jimmy Carter White House by Amy Carter’s cat; or its popularity – as in Franklin D. Roosevelts’s Scottish Terrier Fala, who received so much mail he required his own press secretary.
The Clintons arrived at the White House with only Socks the cat, but soon acquired Buddy, the chocolate Labrador Retriever, probably as the result of a focus group’s determination that the public overwhelmingly approved of dog ownership by a U.S. president.
So the promise of a puppy in the White House was a pretty safe one for the Obamas to make to their daughters. Would that Michelle Obama had put as much thought into election evening couture.
The breed choice, however, is proving to be more controversial than any ACORN connection ever was. A public choice of a breed of dog is a minefield of political correctness and diplomacy. The Obamas are about to learn their first lesson about dog people: we are opinionated, easily offended and rabid in our defense of what we believe. One go-round with dog people and Barack Obama will be more than ready to take on Kim Jong-II, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Bill O’Reilly.
Just about every dog organization has chimed in on this opportunity to publicize their cause, breed or agenda, from the American Kennel Club to its nemesis, the PETA-funded Humane Society of the United States. Naturally, the politically correct thing to do would be to choose a pound puppy, an idea that was nixed on account of Malia Obama’s allergies.
Naturally the Doodle People – people who breed dogs they insist on calling “hybrids” that are actually really, really expensive mutts – have chimed in with their suggestion. I’m sure somewhere in the massive Obama machine there is some wise person to tell him that not all “Doodle Dogs” are hypo-allergenic; that one dog in a litter will be allergy-free while the same litter will contain a dog that looks nothing like its mate and sheds twice as much as my mother’s faux-fur coat. That’s the way it is with litters of mixed-breed dogs.
Sadly, my beloved Australian Shepherds are out of the question, as my office floor will attest. I have adopted a policy of not vacuuming up all the fur shed and just allow it to felt into a rug as we walk on it. It’s not hypo-allergenic, though. So when the Obamas visit, Malia will have to wait in the car.
I equally don’t recommend the other breed I own, the Parson Russell Terrier, unless the Secret Service wants to monitor the breed most likely to stage a coup.
Oh – and as for the Peruvian Hairless Dog that is under consideration: Hell, no. . Trust me, these are not cuddly dogs. Petting a Peruvian Hairless reminds me of when my Uncle Vinnie used to get us kids to spread suntan lotion on his back. (That memory made me throw up just a little.) We don’t need a First Dog that looks like an internal organ (sorry, Peruvian Hairless people. . . ).
But I’m sure every breed club in the country is lobbying for their own. Your breed in the White House guarantees a demand for more litters nationwide, which isn’t always a good thing for the breed, but certainly a boon for the breeders.
I have no opinion about what dog the Obamas should adopt. But I do hope they take the advice from Doggyspace.com and start their own blog on behalf of their new pet. In that case, I’d like to formally offer my services as Official Presidential Canine Blog Facilitator – or whatever Obama calls his other bloggers-for-hire. Certainly there are funds in his coffers to pay me. And I’ll even promise to appease Sarah Palin by only blogging when dressed in street clothes.
Of course I haven’t been the most avid Obama supporter. But, then, I certainly wouldn’t be the first person to be won over to the Obama camp by the promise of cash.