Americans love their pets. What’s more American than the nuclear family throwing a ball in the back yard while Rover fetches it enthusiastically and tirelessly? What is more American than the great Lassie rescuing Timmy from the well? Or what about the rotund Garfield eating John’s lasagna again?
Americans need their pets. It grounds us. It gives us purpose and a connection to nature. It allows us to show a side of us that speaks equal parts master over the wild and caring benefactor to a helpless creature. A pet has needs and we meet them. In return, we are given years of diligent obedience and unconditional love.
Anyone who has ever had a pet knows the unbreakable bonds that can form. They become part of the family. They get birthday parties and Christmas presents. They have a wardrobe of T-shirts and sweaters, rain boots and Halloween costumes. They have special toys and treats, beds and blankets. They love us, so we love them back and in true American style, we give them stuff.
Every American President since 1901 has had a dog in the White House. Just prior to 1901, McKinley was in office and he had two cats and some chickens, but no dog. I think that counts for something, especially since our current President has no pets at all. Some may think that this is a non-issue, certainly with important topics such as health care, Black Lives Matter, gun control, women’s rights, Russia meddling in our political process and possible wars with Syria and North Korea in the forefront of our minds. Who gives a crap about a dog or cat or even a gold fish in the White House?
In a small, bipartisan way, I think it matters. A lot of Americans can agree on this issue since 44 percent of American households have dogs and 35 percent have cats. That’s Republicans and Democrats alike. Having a pet crosses party lines. Pet people have to stand up and be heard. Donald Trump is not a pet person. Even Nixon had a dog. His name was Checkers. It humanizes that scoundrel a little, doesn’t it?
Pet people should be proud. We are selflessly providing for an animal, allowing it to enter our homes and change our lives. We have to care for them, take them to the vet, give them proper nutrition, take them for walks or change the litter.
We have to think about something other than ourselves.
Can you imagine Trump doing that? When you have pets, they need your attention, they need to be heard, they have needs to be met. They don’t kowtow at your fake news tweets at 2 a.m. They are not impressed by your father’s money. They don’t rally behind your white supremacist innuendos. Grabbing them by the pussy may result in a swat by an outstretched claw.
It is widely known that animals have a sixth sense about impending danger. Wildlife have been observed behaving strangely, often fleeing for safety before an earthquake or hurricane. Missing pet statistics increase prior to an earthquake as if they have a sixth sense of the impending disaster. Maybe that’s why Trump doesn’t have a dog. Maybe the dog has a better sense of the impending doom of this presidency than his supporters. Maybe the dog has already gone missing, running for higher ground, probably headed toward Justin Trudeau’s house.