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Let '08 Presidential Election Go To The Dogs

April 30, 2007 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode

Do you consider yourself a good judge of character? I rely on Jesse and Mazey more times than not. If you don't pass their test, you'd better go take another long look in the mirror. With the 2008 Presidential elections not that far off, perhaps we should all be considering a different kind of homework when it comes to learning about these people who want to rule our country. (Note to my pal, Sue: it's a bit lengthy but I'm sure you'll find it as entertaining as I did ;-)

The following is reprinted - along with a few notes from me -- from Dr. Marty Becker, veterinary contributor to ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" and is chief veterinary correspondent for He is the co-author of the best selling "Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul" and "Chicken Soup for the Cat & Dog Lover's Soul." COPYRIGHT 2000 Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service)

Presidential candidates attached to their pets.

We know who rules our house: the pets. But who should rule the White House and the free world?

ford liberty(Left: President Ford with Liberty) 

As Mark Twain writes in his biography "Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in." Our presidential candidates appear to be well acquainted with Mark Twain's wit and wisdom. It seems that they can't outdo each other when it comes to showcasing their passion for their pets. Presidential-pooch wannabes and first-kitty hopefuls are featured on candidate's Web sites, star in photo ops and are woven into interviews at every opportunity.  

So instinctive is our bond to animals that we reach out to anyone on the other end of the leash. "All of us assign positive attributes to someone with an animal", says human-animal bond expert Allen Beck. "That's why politicians want to be seen with a pet." Harry Truman preached, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." but today's campaign managers exhort, "If you want votes, showcase your dog, and cat, fish, reptiles, and yes, even chickens." Savvy politicians know that voters attach positive social attributes to pet ownership and that being seen as pet-friendly can translate into votes.

Pet-loving politicians hark all the way back to George Washington, who had a mixed breed dog, a parrot and a horse. Pets were also used as political tools; popular belief credits FDR's fourth term to his speech about his beloved Scottie, Fala.

Sometimes, however, pets can have a negative effect on a candidate _ remember Nixon's speech about his cocker spaniel, Checkers? Or Lyndon Johnson, who picked up his beagle by the ears during a photo shoot, creating a public outcry from animal lovers across the country?

On a more positive note, who can recall George and Laura Bush without thinking of Scottish Terriers Barney and Miss Beazley, or George and Barbara Bush without thinking about their fondness for English springer spaniel, Millie, or Bill and Hillary Clinton's affection for Sox the cat or Buddy, the Lab adopted while President Clinton was in the White House.
(Blogger's note: Nothing will convince me that any of the Clinton animals came within arms reach of Hillary.)

Vice President Al Gore counts his Labrador retriever, Shiloh, and his mixed-breed dog, Daisy, among his most loyal supporters. Pat Buchanan, the Reform Party candidate, dotes on his 14 year-old orange tabby, Gipper.

George W. Bush shares good political breeding in more than one way. He's not only the son of a former president, but his dog, Spot Fletcher, is the son of superstar, Millie, the famous White House dog and best-selling author. In a Newsweek article, homesick Bush even lamented how much he misses his pets when he's on the road campaigning and how he counts on their hero's welcome when he comes home. There nary a pet owner in America who doesn't understand and appreciate those feelings.

If numbers and variety of pets help tally votes, John McCain should have been the next president of the United States.
The McCain menagerie includes at last count 22 dogs, cats, fish, an iguana and turtles Cuff and Link.

Neither Donald Trump nor Bill Bradley owns a pet.

I remember when I was young, my sister had gone beyond the puppy love stage with her boyfriend and thought she wanted to get married. When asked for advice, grandma said, "It's easy to wear disguises when you're a human but pets are great judges of character. He pets the dog in front of us, but watch how he treats our pets when he doesn't think we're looking." 

He failed the test miserably. The dog had sniffed out the real person for us all to see and reject.

Wouldn't you like to be able to have your pets size up the candidates for every election and then decide whom you'd vote for?

Beats any method we have now.

However, if like Heaven, the White House goes to merit, rather than favor, America's next first family may all be wearing fur coats (the ones they were born with) at the inauguration, as we swear in a leader who rules with unconditional love, loyalty and integrity. 

At the very least, we will know that whoever wins, America's next leader will have a trusty four-legged adviser of the highest order. 

Here is a great link to a site featuring all past White House Royal Furbabies:
click here.

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