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A Dog's Breakfast

The latest tizzy around Barack Obama is what kind of dog should he get for his children. He promised them one, he actually intends to keep THAT promise, and now the question is what kind.

"We have two criteria that have to be reconciled," Obama said. "One is that [daughter] Malia is allergic so it has to be hypoallergenic."

Obama added that while many breeds are hypoallergenic, he would prefer to adopt a dog from a shelter. The problem?

"A lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me," Obama said. "So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."

As trivial as this seems, it raises a lot of thoughts in me -- almost none of them actually related to dogs. But I've heard a LOT of the arguments.

There's one faction that says Obama should get a shelter dog. That sends the "right" message, and could encourage more people to adopt otherwise-unwanted dogs. Going for a purebred, they say, send the "wrong" message, and smacks of elitism.

I say screw them.

They do have a semi-valid point. Barack Obama, in his own words, is a "mutt." Other terms that could apply are mongrel, half-breed, and hybrid.

I tend to use similar terms to myself, referring to my own ethnic heritage (a thorough blend of Western and Northern European), but I have nowhere near the diverse background as our president-elect, who has the same mixed European background on his mother's side blended with a full-blooded Kenyan father.

Personally, I've never been that fond of "purity" as a concept. In many cases, it is an artificial measurement, and often things of lesser purity are superior. In metallurgy, for example, alloys almost always trump pure elements. (Keep your iron; gimme steel!) In botany, hybrids outperform pure strains. And in animal biology, keeping a breed "pure" often ends up with simply reinforcing bad genes.

So our president-to-be is a mutt. I think that's great. It's uniquely American, wonderfully symbolic of our status as a nation -- we took the castoffs and wretched refuse and undesirables and human discards of the world, and forged them into the single greatest nation the world has ever seen. Screw all those people with their pride in their ethnic and cultural and racial purity. We got 'em beat, and we beat 'em with their own garbage.

America, the ultimate "green" nation. We recycled the world's trash, and spun it into gold.

So, saying all that, Obama ought to get a mutt, right?. And not just any old mutt, but one whose genetic makeup is scrambled six ways to Sunday. A mutt reminiscent of George Carlin's dog Tippy, who a vet once categorized as "it's definitely not a monkey" and "part Dodge Dart."

Nope.

Obama should get a purebred, for one very simple reason:

This dog isn't for him. It isn't for the nation. It isn't a political prop.

It's for his daughters, and one of them has allergy issues. So she needs a hypoallergenic breed, one that won't trigger her allergies.

What the Obamas ought to do is prepare a list of breeds that will be safe for his daughters and let them pick out the ones they like. Then let the girls choose the actual dog.

After all, as he said, they earned it. And they deserve a pet of their own, not quasi-guardianship of some political prop.


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Comments (21)

Jay, he really should buy t... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

Jay, he really should buy them a unicorn for sentimental value.

Has Chris Matthews applied ... (Below threshold)
Jonathan:

Has Chris Matthews applied for this position yet?

There really isn't any reas... (Below threshold)
Donna:

There really isn't any reason why he can't go for the best of both worlds. If his daughter has a need for a dog that won't aggravate her allergies and that requres a full-bred dog, they can adopt from a breed-specific rescue. Meets daughter's needs, still takes care of an otherwise unspoken-for dog. Problem solved. If it wouldn't force the bile into my throat on a daily basis, I'd apply for a position in the cabinet.

The Oba-Messiah is our rede... (Below threshold)
JpP:

The Oba-Messiah is our redemption - the Great Redeemer, do not criticize him, for His advertising department, I mean, the news-media, tells us we should get in line and think "Unity" with The One - the magic Negro.

Oprah, Soros, little Spike Lee, George Clooney, etc. have selected the proper president for us mere rubes. Get with the program, show concern for His Highness's pet selection, for He is just like us, His people.

Donna beat me to it -- a pu... (Below threshold)
martyredcars:

Donna beat me to it -- a purebred rescue group is the answer. Or, just putting the word out to a few shelters. I volunteered at a shelter in Las Vegas that was lousy with purebred dogs.

Aside from the fact that Ja... (Below threshold)

Aside from the fact that Jay is right (this dog is for the girls, not us) my first reaction was why don't they already have a dog? Hypo-allergenic dogs are not new.

Even some mongrels are cons... (Below threshold)
marybel:

Even some mongrels are constituted of breeds that don't spur up allergies. For example, a mix of bearded collie and a wheaten or wiry-haired terrier. Maybe the unspoken reason against a rescue dog is that the girls would prefer a puppy. What's cuter (or a better photo op) than a puppy?

As a certified mutt and dog... (Below threshold)
glenn:

As a certified mutt and dog lover myself I salute Barrys desire to get a rescue dog. I just hope he gets one that has the good sense not to bite a reporter. Hate to lose a good dog.

He already has a pitbull fo... (Below threshold)

He already has a pitbull for a chief of staff. Perhaps he should get a weinner dog to fit his personality.

IMHO, any breed or mix of b... (Below threshold)
Wally:

IMHO, any breed or mix of breeds will suffice, so long as it's a yellow dog. Better get a male though, since one b*tch in a household is enough.

What's he need a dog for, anyway? He already has a huge supply of lap-dogs.

we took the castof... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
we took the castoffs and wretched refuse and undesirables and human discards of the world, and forged them into the single greatest nation the world has ever seen.

Unfortunately forgings don't last forever. In the case of this nation it has many cracks, but the biggest seems to be between conservative and liberal people.

Look at what's going on in California over Proposition 8. Liberals are back to the same court who's decision proposition 8 overturned to see if they can get them to rule it invalid. First, that court should recuse itself as it's their decision being overruled. Second, if the court overturns the clear will of the people on some questionable legal detail, which liberal judges have and could invent at will, then the people have no other recourse but that of armed conflict. Not likely in this case, but that's the lesson of history.

The proper response for California liberals would be to attempt to overturn Proposition 8 at the ballot box in 2010. That gives them 2 years to raise money and sway the public. It really comes down to how important the issue is to either side.

The girls have already said... (Below threshold)

The girls have already said they want a goldendoodle, and apparently they did the research behind the decision themselves.

Let them have what they want without further input from the nation.

Personally, I've never b... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

Personally, I've never been that fond of "purity" as a concept.

I don't know the first thing about dog breeds, but with respect to humans at least, it's a complete fabrication. Doesn't exist. Ethnicity is a biological cosmetic and a social construct. But it's been used to justify a lot of nonsense, so I'm with you, JT.

If they can adopt an unwanted hypoallergenic dog, hey, best of all worlds.

And Mac, I'm not sure if you knew this, but it's a judge's job to overturn laws they find to be contradictory to higher law (like say, a state or federal constitution), regardless of the will of the people.

why don't they already h... (Below threshold)

why don't they already have a dog?

The people of the United States weren't going to pay for it's care before.

If he's a mutt, does that m... (Below threshold)
Rich Fader:

If he's a mutt, does that mean we can whap him on the nose with a newspaper?

If and when b.o. and family... (Below threshold)
xiphos:

If and when b.o. and family select a dog, will someone please check with the dog to see if this is what it wants.

This is one that left my ve... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

This is one that left my very pragmatic Nicaraguan wife scratching her head.

"Why are they getting a dog; they didn't have one before, right" --Right

"Is it something all Presidents are supposed to do" --Not really

"Why so much discussion about this" --Don't know, think it's emulating JFK, trying for stylin', etc.

Such rubbish. DO if for your daughters and just do it, quit talking about it like your JFK, Jr. for crappin' out loud.

you're... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

you're

All kidding aside, if one o... (Below threshold)
Tammy:

All kidding aside, if one of the children has an allergy, schnauzers are considered hypoallergenic. However, they are delicate, high maintenance dogs. I used to own one and it was epileptic and died of cancer. I'm now the proud owner of a beatiful, healthy mutt, which I rescued myself, and he's smart and precious and gives lots of love and enjoyment. No, I can't stand the new p-word (sorry, I can't even call him that), but I don't begrudge his little girls a pet to love.

That is why I grow and smok... (Below threshold)
bong:

That is why I grow and smoke NYC Sour Diesel instead of a pure Indica.

Stainless Steel is hypoalle... (Below threshold)
Zoo:

Stainless Steel is hypoallergenic, not dogs.

This is clearly a case of what is good for you is not good for me. BO has been on the side of HSUS and PETA, but now that it comes to his family and their needs, different story.

And back to my original sentence. There are breeds that don't shed and as such are more suitable for people with allergies, but there is no such thing as a hypoallergic dog... at least not a living and breathing dog!




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