Let's Talk About an Addition That Needs Vetting

Take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce about White House pets from the past.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 23, 2008; Page M12

Mr. President-elect, we advise you to think carefully about the dog you promised to get when you move into the White House.

Lots of world leaders have dogs. They tend to reflect their owners' personalities, their images. The queen of England has her imperious and nippish Corgis. Haile Selassie, the arrogant emperor of Ethiopia, had a little dog called Lulu, who would pee on dignitaries' shoes. Russia's Vladimir Putin, given to posing all studly and shirtless, has a studly black Labrador. George Bush's dog, Barney, bites. You see the idea here.

You want your dog to set the right tone for your administration. And you need to like it, especially since, as Harry Truman observed, it may wind up being your only friend in this town.

It's probably helpful to start by ruling a few dogs out.

Given all those unfortunate rap videos and Michael Vick, you don't want to go with a pit bull, as much fun as it might be to turn him loose on Rush Limbaugh. We personally adore Rottweilers, but given their "Omen" movie roles as the guardians of Satan's Spawn on Earth, maybe this isn't quite what you're looking for, either.

No Great Danes. This is the "Scooby-Doo" dog. You make one teensy little mistake, the Dow tanks, and the headline in the New York tabloids, next to you and a picture of the hound: "Ruh-Ro!" People will start calling you "Shaggy."

And no little "Marley," for heaven's sake. We've had it with Marley. You know that movie ad they've been playing since the primaries, where cute little Marley is running down the beach and cute Jennifer Aniston is cutely running after him? We cheer for a killer whale to belly-flop on the beach and swallow Marley like he's a cute little seal. HAHAHAHAHA!! That's a Discovery Channel special we'd pay to see!

Also, accept no gift dogs. Presidential history. (See "Grits"; see "Checkers.")

Amy Carter's teacher gave a dog named Grits to the Carters when Amy's dad took office in 1977. Grits had been born on election night. She seemed to have that presidential mojo. But Grits peed on the White House carpet ! Grits would not swallow a pill for Heartworm Awareness Week!

Grits got herself "re-gifted."

Checkers was also a gift dog, to Richard Nixon's two daughters, which led to the infamously cheesy "Checkers speech." Our notes show you really don't want to be compared to Nixon if you can help it.

So let's think positive here. Let's be upbeat and resolute in the face of two wars, an economy in the tank and Sarah Palin on television more often than you are. Let's get a dog that can help.

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