Other than making the Human Male listen to me rant and rave at the campaign ads that would've played two at a time if TV air time worked that way, I tried to stay mum during the campaign (save for California's Prop 2 and Prop 8 initiatives-- those got a little noisy). Somehow all of the lovely people in my life fall into two camps: the Extreme Republicans and the Extreme Democrats. Both sides are very vocal, and both are convinced that the other one is going to be the downfall of civilization. I learned that if I said anything politically-bent, someone was going to get loud, defensive, and likely start crying and erase me from their phone.
The election is now over, and things happened as they did. Now we can focus on something important: the Obamadog.
During his acceptance speech, Obama mentioned that they would be getting a dog. I was already jazzed up about seeing Grant Park on TV (flashback to great memories of the 1998 Bulls rally, when Mamala "left us to go get the camera" and somehow ended up moving closer to the bandshell and making a whole new group of drunken Chicago friends), and the thought of a new dog neighbor made me so happy. I was even more ecstatic when I checked in on the Animals and Politics blog and read that the Obamas were looking to adopt. He mentioned his future pooch again in this afternoon's press conference.
Who knows if this is an actual consideration or just a campaign move, but being a Chicagoan living in DC with a DC shelter dog, I'd be remiss if I didn't say something about this.
DC is a great area to have a dog. While there are some definite improvements that could be made (like allowing dogs on the Metro), I don't think I've ever lived in a more dog-friendly area. There are several dog parks in the area, a lot of the stores allow dogs in-- including Barnes and Noble-- and many of the restaurants have outdoor seating. Walk up and down any business district and you'll see a water bowl outside the stores and a dish of treats at the counter.
I don't know if it's like this everywhere, but there are an unbelievable amount of homeless dogs (and cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, lizards, etcetera) in this area. It's heartbreaking. Some of them were clearly someone's pet in the not too distant past, and others showed the obvious signs that they'd had a hard life. It's shocking to see what people do to animals, or how they'll use them to make a quick buck. I think in the DC metro area, you get a mix of situations: people who need to move quickly, dogfighting rings, backyard breeders, those who didn't notice the "no pets" clause in their leases. No matter what their former situations were, so many of them gave you the look that said "Just take me home and I'll be good". Needless to say, I cried a lot when we were looking for a dog.
Fortunately, there's quite a number of organizations working hard to find them good homes. While we were trying to find Alice, we had our list narrowed down to easily a dozen shelters, rescue organizations, and websites. Some places are lucky to even have that many! Surely there are some that are crazy or in it for the money, but the groups we frequented were run by kind, knowledgeable animal people who were really looking for out for the pet's best interest. We even found this at the county shelters-- we got Alice from Fairfax, and they had spent upwards of $600 in medical procedures on her right after she came in. That's a chunk of change when the return profit is a $20 adoption fee.
One of the things that has surprised me the most about the area is how many people have rescue dogs here. For a town obsessed with image, there are some people toting around some damn ugly mutts out there. But at least ninety percent of the dogs we've met since we got Alice have been rescues. Even the "designer" or chi-chi ones-- I've yet to meet a non-shelter puggle or bulldog yet. It's encouraging to see that, underneath the shiny postcard exterior, there are some kindhearted people out there.
Who knows if the Obamas do hit up a shelter if they'll be able to find a low-allergy dog, but since everyone else is having a field day with the suggestions, so will I. My pick for the first dog would be a pit bull or pit bull mix. They're a gorgeous, loveable, and totally underestimated breed, and there's no short supply of them in the area (I think it's both a case of local dogfighting rings and apartment complexes that ban the breed). I can't even imagine what having a shelter pit bull as the First Dog would do to changing the breed's image.
Though I have to say, I think there's a case to be made for comical little pug mutts, too...