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Shelter's mutt gets our vote every time

Dear President-Elect Obama:

First, please accept our congrats on your new gig, and best of luck with running the country and all. Probably you're kind of busy right now cleaning up after the last guy in the White House, but we were hoping to talk about your dog for a minute.

By now the world knows you mean to get a puppy for your daughters, Malia and Sasha. We dog enthusiasts are behind you 100 percent. But you probably know this by now, having been inundated with thousands of opinions on the undisputed superiority of chihuahuas vs. poodles, schnauzers over Labs, puggles vs. basschshunds. As you recently said, "We're getting more advice about this than my economic policies."

Why do we care so much? Maybe we need a break from the grim economy, the endless bad news in its ever varying forms, and the war. Maybe we need to see that your family is a lot like ours.

So we appreciated hearing that among your girls' White House chores — making their beds, cleaning their rooms — they also will be required to pick up after the pooch on the White House lawn. Surely, along with being the first president to have a laptop on your desk in the Oval Office, you are also the first to use the term "scoop the poop" on national television.

But what a great life lesson for your kids about cleaning up messes and leaving things better for the next person. Probably those Secret Service guys who skulk around out there will appreciate it, too.

By the way, how much heat did you take from the Small Dog lobby for using terms like "yappy" and "girly" and asking Barbara Walters if her dog Cha Cha is the kind that "like, sits in your lap and things?"

Then you said you planned to get "a big rambunctious dog of some sort."

Notice we did not say "buy."

Probably a well-informed person like yourself already knows this, but an estimated 6-million to 8-million dogs and cats end up in shelters every year, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Three-million to 4-million of them are killed.

To which we respectfully suggest the following:

Mr. President-Elect, get a mutt.

Are we not, after all, a nation of mutts? And could there be a better time in history for giving a down-on-his luck dog his day?

If it's some sort of combo designer dog your family is after, trust us — shelters have mixes you could not begin to imagine. Yes, the White House seems like a home for the papered and pedigreed. But do not forget President Lyndon Johnson's beloved mongrel Yuki, with whom the president reportedly liked to sing.

And did you happen to hear how one of the dogs who played Marley came from a local shelter here?

So here's the pitch: Mutts tend to be all about persevering when no one thinks they stand a chance. Which might sound familiar. And talk about your life lessons.

A trip to your local animal shelter will speak volumes about abuse, abandonment and just plain hard times. But see a good dog looking up at you, wagging his tail and willing you to take a chance on him, and you also learn something about resilience.

Not to mention hope. Now where have we heard that "hope" thing before?

Thanks for listening,

Your fellow American dog-lovers

Shelter's mutt gets our vote every time 12/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 3:30pm]
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