What Kind of Pet Should Donald Trump Get?
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.