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Pet People

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Presidents, candidates and their pets

I'm posting my column here in case you didn't see it in the paper or online and so we can talk about it. There are so many other presidential pets you might remember I couldn't fit it:

I'm a political junkie who watches all the talking-head shows. Since I'm also a pet junkie, I thought I'd mix the two and dig up some tidbits about presidents and their pets.

There have been true animal lovers in the White House, but I also believe many pets were used more as public relations tools. And in my not-so-humble opinion, many presidents weren't exactly responsible. Some examples:

Gerald Ford had a golden retriever named Liberty, who had a litter of pups while in the White House.

The Carters had a dog named Grits, given to daughter Amy by her teacher. Grits was later returned. Amy also had a Siamese cat.

Ronald Reagan had a dog named Lucky, a Bouvier des Flandres who was exiled to the Reagan ranch after she "grew too big," and who was replaced by Rex, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.

When Bill Clinton was president, the family had a Labrador, Buddy, and cat, Socks. I can't help but think they got both a dog and cat to cover all bases. After they left office, they gave Socks to Bill's secretary. Buddy was killed by a car. Today, the Clintons have another Lab.

President Bush has two Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley. Barney came from a litter of puppies born to a Scottie owned by former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman; Miss Beazley came from a breeder. He also had an English springer spaniel, Spot, who died at a ripe old age. Spot was the offspring of George Sr. and Barbara's famous dog, Millie. The senior Bushes also kept one of Millie's pups.

George and Laura also have a black cat, India. Funny we never hear about the cat. Maybe she crossed the president's path too often as he headed to the situation room.
All these tales set bad examples. I have no doubt the pets have been loved and cared for, but I don't believe anyone should breed a pet unless they are professional breeders who devote their life to the betterment of a breed. Pets should be spayed and neutered, unless they're heading for the show ring. And giving a dog the boot because it got "too big" for the White House? Please.

And what's with all the purebreds? Why not adopt a mutt from a shelter? They're the all-American dog, a mix of "nationalities," just like us two-legged citizens. That would be a message worth sending to a country that euthanizes millions of pets each year. It certainly would be an improvement over the prancing around in hunting garb shooting ducks for the press.

So, how do current candidates stand up?

Not so well. As reported in Newsweek a few weeks ago, the son of Mike Huckabee was fired from a job at a Boy Scout camp in 1998 after he was accused of hanging and killing a stray dog. Reports allege then-Arkansas Gov. Huckabee used his clout to smother the investigation. The son's excuse? He was putting the dog out of its misery. Huckabee told Newsweek, "There was a dog that apparently had mange and was absolutely, I guess, emaciated."

Disgusting. A human with an ounce of compassion would take the dog to a vet, not carry out a canine lynching. Huckabee should have sent his son for intensive psychological treatment, not cover up or make feeble rationalizations. Today, the Huckabees have a hunting dog, Jet, and a Shih Tzu, Sonic. Hope junior lives far away.

Then there's mechanical Mitt, who once transported a family dog in a crate tied to the top of their vehicle for a 12-hour drive to a vacation spot in Canada, according to the Boston Globe. The family had to make an unplanned stop when brown liquid from the crate flowed down the back windshield. Romney pulled into a gas station, hosed off the dog and the vehicle and pushed on.

Dogs often lose stools under extreme stress, but I guess to smooth operator Romney, keeping to schedule was more important. Currently, the Romney's are pet-less. They recently "lost" dog Marley, a Weimaraner, but no word on what they lost him to. Hopefully it was old age and not a highway.

John McCain, on the other hand, seems to be a great animal lover with four dogs, a cat, two turtles, a ferret, three birds and 13 fish at last count. And according to New York Times political blogger Mark Santora, McCain once saved his dog Coco, a mutt, from choking on a treat.

Finally, a candidate with a mutt!

Democrat Dennis Kucinich has three pound-rescued pups, so he's cool in my book too. John Edwards has a Lab and a golden retriever. Rudy Giuliani doesn't have any pets, nor does Barack Obama, though he says his two daughters want one.

You might think I'd dislike those sans pets, but you'd be wrong. Not everyone is ready, or a pet lover. But I do expect those who do have pets to treat them like a family member. And my vote just may reflect that, because how a person treats animals tells you a lot about their character.

posted by Sandy at 1/09/2008 10:33:00 AM


Blogger Alice said...

politics... bah!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I don't like to discuss politics, but I will say this about breeding.

I chose to breed Mattie and Oscar b/c I love their breed. I did not breed for money! There really isn't money to be made as a private breeder b/c of the vet expences before, during and after a litter of puppies.

I would breed again if I had the right dog. That means they have to be great specimen of that breed. I would never buy a puppy from a professional breeder either. That is where Stella came from and it was a diploriable situation. I have never seen a professional breeder that is in it for the love of a breed. They have so many dogs that they don't get the attention they need. They are there to have puppies and bring in money. They live outdoors in kennels and whether or not they have shelter, they still have to endure the elements.

I would choose to buy a puppy from a private breeder where they breed for the love of that breed. When I look for a puppy, I interview the breeder and if they are a responsible breeder they will interview me. When I was breeding I made my prospective pet parents fill out a questionier, I called the Humane Society to find out if they had any type of calls on them and I asked for references and vet information.

I know that not all breeders are as responsible as I am about there puppies. I'm also not saying that I would never have a mutt or adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue. I have had mutts in the past. Copper was a mutt. But I am choosy about who I bring into our family b/c they are a family member and I do not want to make the wrong choice. I want them to fit into our family as much as I fit to them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008 3:19:00 PM  
Blogger dragon said...

Sandy, in some of my post you have said that I crack you up. Or in other words I made you laugh. I was glad to here that, but some times I was not trying to be funny. I liked that also. I took it as being naturally funny. But this time I got a big laugh. I mean a really big laugh. I mean rolling in the floor funny. My side was hurting I laugh so hard. Tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t breath.
I love to talk politic with any one who can state an objectively view point, be open minded, and not repeat them self over and over. I have listen to people tell me they voted for some one because of the following. 1) Their hair color. 2) They rode high in the saddle. (To this day I don’t know what that means. 3) Cloths they wore. 4) They only voted for a particular party. 5) Whether they were right or left-handed. And on, and on, and on.
Sandy, Sandy, Sandy, because of their PETS. It might not be the number one on my list, but its PDC. Come on girl.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008 7:03:00 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

I just think it's terrible to breed dogs when so many are euthanized and unwanted. Sorry, but that's how I feel. Maybe you are right about "professional" breeders as well as puppy mills and backyard breeders, but it my book it's all sad when, as I said, so many die simply because there aren't enough homes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Sorry, but have to agree with Sandy on this one! Too many little lives are in need of saving for there to be more brought into this world on purpose right now!

Thursday, January 10, 2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

One time while checking out the White House, we went around to the back where most tourist dont go. We saw Barbara Bush letting Millie out to run! It was exciting for me to see a happy dog running on the Whitehouse lawn!

Thursday, January 10, 2008 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger Daisylouu said...

Well, honestly, I *DO* think you can tell the core of a person by their relationship with animals.

I always told my daughter one very telling way you could get a glimpse of the character of a man is by his GENUINE love of animals. A guy who will dote on his pet, talk baby-talk, and be openly affectionate is a great start. It shows someone has the ability to love and care for others and isn't toally self-centered.

Obviously, voting for someone and marrying someone shouldn't be based on one little thing.....but it definately DOES give some insight.

Friday, January 11, 2008 5:36:00 PM  

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Pet People

Sandy Britt, an animal welfare advocate and volunteer with Clarksville rescue organizations, takes care of three dogs: Zoe, Scooter and Peanut; two cats: Catfish and Tarzan; and one husband, Glen, and according to him she takes care of them in that order.

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