Saturday, November 08, 2008

Me 'n Barack: gone to the dogs? For better or worse or whatever

"Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House." Calvin Coolidge

"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Harry S. Truman

"...Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. " President-elect Barack Obama, Victory Speech

Barack Obama has been elected and it seems like most of the country is feeling like he promised us all a new puppy. The better economy, end-of-war, health care reform, improving environment: these issues will take some time. But, damn, the new puppy? We want it now!

There is a Presidential Pets Museum, recently relocated to Williamsburg, Virginia, which has a fun web site. Calvin Coolidge had a particularly diverse menagerie, though apparently the irresponsible Coolidges ditched many of their pets when they left the White House. At least, that is what this newspaper article implies: What is to Become of White House Pets When Coolidges Depart?

The Theodore Roosevelt family had the best presidential pet names -- a snake named Emily Spinach (named by his daughter, Alice: "Emily in honor of a very thin aunt, and Spinach because it was green"), plus guinea pigs with intriguing names such as Bishop Doane and Father O'Grady. You can read about the Roosevelt guinea pigs at Project Bartleby, where Roosevelt's Letters to Children are published. Check out Fine Names for Guinea Pigs.

Did you grow up with family dogs?

If yes, were they mutts or purebreds?

What about now --breed loyalist or pound rescue?

For a long time now, the Obama PR machine has been publicizing Barack and Michelle's promise that the kids would get a puppy when the campaign was over, regardless of the outcome. Little Malia, who has asthma, has done her home work and is reportedly lobbying for a goldendoodle. Doodles are also known as "designer dogs" and "purebred mutts".

Yay! The real Obama girls will finally be getting their family dog. Best of all, after all kinds of politicking on the part of the American Kennel Club (lobbying for a purebred with their "Presidential Pup" survey and coming up with a poodle) and of the general public (with Obama Family Dog pounding hard for a rescue or shelter pup)... Michelle closed the deal and said they would go with a rescue dog. There is a rescue group for doodles, the International Doodle-Owners Group, which is eager to help the Obamas find the right First Pup. That ought to keep both factions happy.

My neighbors have a doodle and it is HUGE, way bigger than the average golden retriever or standard poodle. Sometimes, mutts turn out larger than the sum of the parents. Pictured above left, a contender for the title biggest dog in the world: a Great Dane/Newfoundland cross named Samson.

Samson got a short coat and overall Dane appearance --and is drooly and black like a Newfie. Honestly, he looks like one big and shiny black lab. However, this lil' pup is a 275 pound, 4"2" head-to-paw (or 6'5" standing up on his hind legs) tall dog. A moose-dog. A dog with oodles of public appeal and a hard luck case -- his human mom is in a wheelchair, his family has limited income -- and the big guy needed an operation plus physical therapy. Save Samson came through.

Samson was an RSPCA rescue puppy, saved at 6 months of age. The adoptive family were warned he might get bigger. Oops and he sure did... There is a frequently reported shelter problem called Black Dog Syndrome, aka Big Black Dog Syndrome: large black dogs are less frequently adopted than other size and color combinations.

I checked out the Washington DC Humane Society -- good lord, all they have is pit bulls, pit bulls, pit bulls. A good pit bull is the finest kind of canine and a bad one is the worst. Maybe the Obamas should get one of the sweetiepie-variety pitbulls? They could name it Hockey Mom. Of course, the Obamas may adopt a Chicago area doggie... pretty sure, whatever dog they get, it will behave far better than W.'s little Barney!

I like dogs and can't imagine living without them. Best dog I ever lived with was a pound rescue. Purebred or mutt or designer dog -- doesn't matter at all. I had a friend with a fantastic German Shepherd Dog (GSD) -- my favorite breed. Her neighbors loved to play Frisbee with her dog. They worried she was too big and too vigorous for their own household, so they visited the Humane Society and came back with a tiny GSD/hound pup. They were thinking, Frisbee dog and smart like GSD, but little and perky like a beagle. Hah! It turned out that the "hound" part was a bloodhound. They ended up with a 120 pound mass of wrinkles that couldn't have cared less about Frisbees, unless you could eat them. Undistinguished little puppy turned into one peculiar (but charming) dog.

Husband and I adopted a lovely bulldog as our first attempt at parenting. He was wonderful. Since his demise, we have adopted two more bulldogs -- and they are night and day in character and personalities. The sum of the two new bullies is far less than the wonderful first, even though they have finer "bloodlines". One of the new bullies approximates a neurotic GSD, the other generally impersonates a rock. We still love them to pieces. Honestly, this purebred vs. shelter dog debate seems to boil down to the same as adopted vs. birth children -- to my mind anyhow, it just does NOT matter. You just love what you have. There are no bad dogs (or kids). How the caretakers handle them, that is what matters.

Well, this post is going no where and I am going off to bed. But really looking forward to hearing about Malia and Sasha's new doggie. With every rescue group and humane society in America combing their holdings for good presidential dog candidates, they ought to end up with a real winner!


Cello said...

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The Laundress said...

Freakin' excellent that you are creating a gn and blogging the process. That is what EVERYONE does, they just don't hardly ever mention it here!

Meanwhile, what kind of doggie do you think the Obama family ought to get? You got a favorite pup? Maybe Snowy (Tintin's bow-wow?) -- he is a wire-hair. Heard the girls want a rescue Westie -- have EXCELLENT reports on rescued Westies, so they are spot-on in their web research, whaddya think?

Libby said...

I love dogs and I grew up with a purebread German Shepherd and a shepherd/collie mix (boy was he a hyper pup). I lived out in the country, which is where people loved to drop off their unwanted pets. That's how we ended up with one of my favorite pets Ming-she was a Pekingnese, and boy was she a doll.

I don't have a dog now, but I sure do want one.


The Laundress said...

I hope you get one! Weren't you thinking about a smallish one?

Read in People magazine that Sasha and Malia really want a Westie and they want to name it Snowball. I think that sounds absolutely PERFECT. I know a three people with rescued Westies and they are very nice dogs and little enough that the girls can have a lapdog.

Noisy bulldogs snoring at my feet right now and they sound sweet.


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