(PETS/POLITICS) While Donald Trump’s presidency has posed a number of concerns, perhaps one of the largest red flags is the lack of a pet in the White House. Believe it or not, Trump could become the first U.S. President in nearly 130 years to not have a canine companion in the White House.
The White House Pet Museum maintains Presidents without a pet dog have been relatively “unlucky,” while those with four-legged friends have been somehow protected.
Many are urging Trump to bring home a dog simply because having a pet is good for a one’s health. Adversely, the Humane Society has gone so far as calling Trump “a threat to animals everywhere” due to his environmental policies (or lack there of), and his close ties to his trophy hunting elder sons Donald Jr. and Eric.
Read on to learn more about President Trump’s relationship to animals, and see which pet seems to suit him best. While you’re at it, click here to learn more about the history of U.S. presidents and their pets over the years. — Global Animal
“If a dog … will not come to you after he has looked you in the face, you ought to go home and examine your conscience.” — Woodrow Wilson
New York Times, Alex Beam
Of all the stains besmirching the Trump presidency — the ethical lacunae, the spasmodic “policy” fits, the Golf Digest aesthetic — none looms so large as the absence of a White House pet. Breathes there a man with a soul so dead that he doesn’t want a loyal dog or faithful feline trotting beside him when he mounts that lonely staircase to the venerable Master Bedroom?
It seems emblematic of President Trump’s blaring tone-deafness for the office that he doesn’t even feign interest in recruiting a furry, fowlish or finny friend. Pets reap vast, humanizing rewards for presidents, as almost every one of his predecessors has discovered.
The White House has at various times hosted snakes, a badger, a lion, a hyena, zebra, bears and even elephants, gifted to James Buchanan from the king of Siam, present-day Thailand. The animal lover and killer Theodore Roosevelt doubled as zookeeper, sheltering such exotic charges as the guinea pig Admiral Dewey and Jonathan Edwards, a small bear.
More mundane pets such as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier, Fala, and Senator Richard M. Nixon’s cocker spaniel, Checkers, have clawed their way into American history. It is said that Lyndon B. Johnson received more negative mail when he hoisted his beagle, Him, by the ears in 1964 than he did waging the Vietnam War. Many animal lovers never forgave Johnson, who received some tepid support from hunters, who sometimes pulled their dogs’ ears to make sure they were in full throat for the chase.
As a bona fides of his canine affection, the retired Johnson recorded a vinyl record, “Dogs Have Always Been My Friends: Lyndon Johnson Reminisces Tales From The Texas Hills, Vol. 1” — still available on Amazon.
Mr. Trump’s reluctance to take a pet under his wing seems silly when you consider how little work it must involve. Let’s get real; it’s not as if he would have to follow them around with a pooper scooper, or empty that foul-smelling litter box. That is why God invented White House ushers, and there are plenty of them.
By all appearances, Mr. Trump doesn’t like animals.
“It’s hard not to notice his lack of commitment to companion animals and nature in general,” comments Alan M. Beck, a professor of animal ecology at Purdue University and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond. “His sons are trophy hunters.”
Professor Beck says that politicians often adopt animals “because people with animals are given more positive attribution. If you have an animal, you are somehow a better person. There are lots of studies on this. But I don’t think the president even seems to care about that.”
Professor Beck supported Hillary Clinton in the last election and isn’t sheepish about baring his fangs.
“His not liking dogs doesn’t surprise me, but it’s the least of my concerns. Frankly it doesn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know.”
President Franklin D Roosevelt and Eleanor with Meggie 1933. Photo credit: AP
A White House pet might be good for Mr. Trump, and good for the country as well. A much-cited 1992 study published in the Medical Journal of Australia reported that pet owners had lower blood pressure levels than non-owners.
One can’t help thinking — reports of his “astonishingly excellent” health notwithstanding — that Mr. Trump might do well to unwind a little. Golf can’t cure everything.
In therapeutic literature, animals are often called “social lubricants” because their presence eases potentially awkward interactions. According to the psychiatrist Roy Grinker, Sigmund Freud often had his Chinese chow, Jofi, attend analyses. Sometimes Freud would speak to a patient through her, e.g., “Jofi has decided to give you another chance.”
It’s easy to see how a pet could serve as a badly needed emollient for the notoriously blunt President Trump. In a hypothetical meeting with the North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un, Mr. Trump could let his hypothetical dog Fido — the same name as Abraham Lincoln’s mixed-breed pet — do the talking. “Fido has some serious concerns about your medium-range weaponry,” I hear Mr. Trump saying.
Hope springs eternal. If Mr. Trump’s youngest son, Barron, moves to the White House with his mother, a presidential pet may be in the offing. A Trump fan reportedly offered Barron a mediagenic golden doodle a few months ago, but Mr. Trump begged off, according to the New York Post, citing his peripatetic schedule.
The question arises: What pet suits a Trump most? Some research from a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin suggests that Mr. Trump might be more of a “cat person” (more neurotic) than a dog lover (more extroverted, agreeable). What about ferrets? Weren’t ferrets big in the 1980s, the era now known as Peak Trump I?
Sooner or later, I suspect a pet will take up residence in the Donald Trump White House. If nothing else, he might feel competitive with Russia’s pet-ophilic president, Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Putin is often photographed hugging dogs and even briefly nurtured a Siberian tiger cub, winning plaudits from the World Wildlife Fund.
What is that great line? Once you’ve learned to fake sincerity, the rest is easy. Once Donald Trump learns to pretend to love animals, he can move on to pretending to love the human race.