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Tag: election

Dog rules: Terrier elected president

How a dog came to be elected president of the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks Civic Association in Annandale, Virginia — unanimously, no less – is a tale of apathy, deception, humor and haste.

Last year, at an association meeting, a list of candidates and their qualificatons was announced.

Ms. Beatha Lee was described as being interested in neighborhood activities and the outdoors. She was a relatively new resident of the community who had experience overseeing an estate of 26 acres in Maine.

Apparently wanting to see a new face in the office, members unanimously elected Beatha Lee and the slate of candidates with whom she was running, reported the Washington Post.

A few weeks later, when the association’s newsletter came out, residents learned that Beatha Lee is a Wheaten terrier.

About 90 dogs live in the community (though they don’t have the right to vote), as well as about 250 human residents — some of whom found the news funny, some of whom didn’t.

“It was a first and last name, so everyone thought she was human. I’m not thrilled, I’m embarrassed,” said one.” Others saw it as a nice break in the monotony.

Dave Frederickson, who read the dog’s name and qualifications to the crowd at the annual meeting, said, “Many people, like myself, were amused. But some were extremely upset. I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone explaining things.”

Beatha belongs to the former assocation president, Mark Crawford, who inherited her in 2008 from his mother and stepfather in Maine.

Crawford had served three consecutive terms as president — the limit — and after his requests to run a fourth time were denied, he decided sign his dog up as a candidate, with himself as vice-president.

“We wanted to send a message to the neighborhood that they needed to get involved and get engaged. That they can’t count on the same people to do this year in and year out,” he said.

Crawford said nothing in the association bylaws states that the president has to be human.

Asked how Beatha was faring in the post, Crawford said, “Well, she delegates a lot … That’s what executives are supposed to do – delegate.”

The pawlitics of bedtime

On my first night in Missoula, I fell asleep with one dog and woke up with a different one.

On the next night, I fell asleep with two dogs and woke up with one.

On the third night, I fell asleep with two dogs and woke up with none. 

For the first time in our five months of traveling, in the latest of the long line of friends and family off whom we have freeloaded, Ace opted to sleep with someone other than me.

My feelings are hurt, but not too badly.

Back in Missoula, Ace has found a lively playmate, and I’ve been in full freeloading mode, enjoying all the comforts of somebody else’s home.

Gwen Florio, a reporter for the Missoulian, who I used to work with at the Philadelphia Inquirer, was kind enough to invite Ace and I to stay with her, her husband Scott, and their dog Nell – a four-month-old Brittany spaniel.

I’ve eaten most of their leftovers, drank most of their milk, eaten most of their eggs, watched their TV and had my own room in the basement, featuring one of the top two beds I’ve slept on (the other being in Santa Fe) during our journey.

Two more weeks on it, and I think my back would stop hurting.

But, as  much as I’ve enjoyed nesting at Gwen’s, it’s time to press on to Seattle.

On the first night, I retired early and Ace came to bed with me. When Nell jumped in – well to be honest, she jumped up, putting her front paws on the bed, and I pulled her up the rest of the way – Ace jumped off. I fell asleep snuggling with Nell, but when I woke up she was gone, and Ace was laying at my side.

On the second night, Gwen was working late on election night, and after watching a little bit of the “shellacking” on TV, I retired early. This time, Ace didn’t mind Nell joining us (if only Republicans and Democrats could learn to co-exist so quickly), and I fell asleep with the two of them – once Nell completed her process of nibbling my hands, squirming, walking over me, turning in circles, pawing at the bedspread, nibbling my hands some more, turning a few more circles and finally flopping down with a sigh. By morning, though (like many a Democrat), she was gone.

On the third night, I retired even earlier, and they both followed me to bed, and  both got in. But when I woke up they had both abandoned me. While I slept, Gwen had returned home and the dogs joined her for the night. Fortunately, her husband was out of town so there was room in her bed for them both.

Ace and Nell have gotten along great, and it has been interesting to watch their play progress — from timid and restrained to no-holds-barred wrestling. She’s Muhammad Ali to Ace’s Joe Frazier. In her back yard, a stone’s throw from the base of Mt. Jumbo, she runs circles around him, eggs him on, gives him a jab or a nip, then darts away. He keeps plodding forward, swinging with his paws, then watching as she bounces across the yard like a pinball.

Ace — despite my initial fears — hasn’t tried to use Nell’s dog door. It’s the perfect size for her, and she speeds in and out of the house at her will. It’s the perfect size for Ace to get stuck in. I had visions of having to take the door off its hinges and taking them both to a vet, or a hardware store, to have dog and door surgically separated.

Luckily, Ace hasn’t tried to use it, or even poke his nose through, probably because it — also like politicians – flaps and makes noise .

Nell, at four months, still engages in the kind of mischief pups perpetrate. At home during the day, while I wasn’t paying attention, she snagged a full roll of toilet paper, took it through her dog door and proceeded to decorate the lawn with confetti. She managed to get into my toothpaste, but apparently decided not to make a meal of it.

Ace, though he seemed unsure how to react to her puppiness at first, now wrestles with her in the way he does with his favorite dogs, nipping at her legs, trying to put her entire head in his mouth, going after her little nub of a tail — all with his trademark gentleness.

When he tires of it all he flops down in the yard, as he did yesterday morning. The grass was white with frost, and Ace relaxed with one of Nell’s toys that he’s grown especially fond of, probably because it has, or once had, peanut butter in it.

For 15 minutes, as Nell alternately looked on, ran circles around him, darted inside and out again, Ace laid there with the purple toy, and when he got up, there was a big green circle where the frost had melted away under his body heat.

To me, it seemed symbolic (then again, I hadn’t had my coffee yet) of what dogs do for us.

They melt away our frosty exteriors, they bring out the unjaded us that can be buried pretty deeply beneath the shells we hide behind, the image we project, all our bullshit and bluster.

They knock down the walls we put up.

Maybe our politicians could learn a thing or two from them, to the point of even becoming bedfellows — not in the dirty sense of the word, but in terms of working together to achieve a goal.

How cool would that be, if they could all settle down, bark less, share the toys, and — as dogs do — make the world a better place?

What’s in a name? Ask Young Boozer

Does what you name a dog shape that dog’s personality? Will “Killer” turn out to be one? Of course not. Dogs, or for that matter, people, don’t always live up to their names, which is fortunate for Young Boozer.

It was while driving through Alabama last week that I first became aware — through a campaign ad on the radio — of Young Boozer, a former banker who is running for state treasurer.

I started scouting for his campaign signs, but, amid the thousands of candidate signs stuck in the ground last week, I couldn’t find one bearing his name, which is just as well because I would have been tempted to take it.

I did find his campaign ad online though (above), which ends with the tagline: “Funny name, serious leadership.”

Today, we’re happy to report that Young Boozer’s name didn’t hold him down. He won the Republican primary over another name that may ring some bells: George Wallace Jr.

 Young Boozer captured 64 percent of the vote in the primary, the Gadsden Times reports.

Young Boozer– he’s actually Young Boozer III, meaning there were two other Young Boozers before him — will face Democratic candidate Charley Grimsley in the general election.

Rating Bo Obama’s job performance

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The First Dog has completed his first year in office, and, as far as we can tell,  he has performed his duties (that’s duties, with a “T”) admirably.

Bo has been cute, playful and photogenic, and he has made the Obamas, who can come across as a little robotic at times, appear a little more down to earth and, though they live in that big white house, a little more like the rest of us.

(You can view a nice Washington Post photo gallery of Bo — it comes up after the annoying advertisement – here.)

There are those who say the White House could be reaping more benefits from Bo, but in our opinion, it’s not about what your dog can do for you, but about what you can do for your dog.

The Obamas held off on getting a dog until they were settled in the White House. Obama was, in fact, the first pet-less president ever elected — a fact some say cost him pet-lover support during the campaign.

Once in office, the family’s scientific — some might say emotionless — approach to getting a dog, one they could be assured wouldn’t trigger their daughter’s allergies, and the fact they didn’t get a dog in need of rescue, may have taken away some of the moment’s charm as well, but not much.

All of this was studied by Diana C. Mutz — yes, Mutz –  the Samuel A. Stouffer Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania who, according to Daniel Rubin in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer column, studied the electoral appeal of Barack Obama in the fall.

Her conclusion, says Rubin: “Dude could have used a dog.”

All of Obama’s pre-election talk about how they were going to get a dog underscored the fact that the presidential contender did not have one, according to Mutz’s research.

Mutz says Obama was the first pet-less elected president (Chester Alan Arthur, the 21st president, didn’t have one, but he was appointed after James Garfield was shot.)

More than 400 pets have occupied the White House, she says, and dog lovers represent a huge chunk of the electorate, with about half of U.S. households owning dogs (Republicans more so than Democrats, by 6 percent.)

Mutz, who has two dogs, three cats and runs an animal rescue out of her home, concluded that  the probability of voting for Obama went down 16 percent if one owned a dog.

Quite possibly, she says, dog owners identify with other dog owners, and  a sort of projection occurs where dog owners prefer the more “doglike” candidate.

I know I do; and by doglike, I mean honest.

As much as Bo — a Portuguese water dog that was a gift to the First Family from the late Ted Kennedy — might have helped in the campaign, the Obama family getting a dog then would have smacked of exploitation. I respect the fact they waited, and that, in the year since his arrival, he has not been overly-foisted on the public.

So keep up the good work, Bo, and just be a dog.

 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Meet the new mayor — a three-legged dog

A three-legged dog beat out a three-legged cat in the race for mayor of a town in which I once toiled — Divide, Colorado.

Twenty-five dogs and cats entered the race, with each vote they received bringing in a one dollar donation to the local animal shelter, KKTV in southern Colorado reports.

In the end, elections officials report, it came down to a race between Spright, a small female mixed breed, and Walter the cat.

Spright received 4,755 votes; Walter racked up 4,213. Combined with other votes cast, the election raised $14,084 for the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter.

Divide is an unincorporated town on the north slope of Pikes Peak. (I worked there for a few summers during high school at a property development.)

Spright’s two-year term will begin with an official inauguration ceremony at noon Sunday at the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter at 308 Weaverville Road in Divide. There will be a BBQ cookout for all candidates and the public.

First pup: Obama to make good on promise

Barack Obama — on top of all the other history he made last night — may have been the first president-elect to mention a dog in his election speech.

“I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.”

A Discovery Channel blog says the “brief puppy mention may represent the first time that an animal has been referenced in a presidential victory speech. If not, use of the word ‘puppy’ would certainly seem to be a rarity.”

Acknowledging his family’s contributions to his campaign, Obama brought up the promise he’d made earlier to his daughters — to get a dog once the campaign was over — and indicated he planned to make good on it.

The family has said they plan to adopt a shelter or rescue dog.

Joe Biden may be adding a dog to the family as well.

He told reporters traveling with his campaign earlier that his wife had promised him a “big dog” if he got elected, according to Reuters. That promise was made in connection with his presidential campaign, but Biden said his wife later said it would apply to a vice-presidential victory as well.

Jill Biden had taped pictures of different dogs on the back of the seat in front of him on his campaign plane to inspire the candidate as he criss-crossed the country in the final sprint to election day.

Mass. hysteria: Greyhound racing vote nears

In addition to helping pick the next president, Massachusetts voters tomorrow will be deciding the future of greyhound racing in the state.

Voters will weigh in on a hotly debated ballot measure that, if approved, would make Massachusetts the eighth state to ban live greyhound racing. (Idaho, Maine, North Carolina, Nevada, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington are the others.)

The Boston Globe reported Saturday, in a story that oozed objectivity, that conditions in which greyhounds live — a key factor in the argument to ban the sport — are, well, in the eye of the beholder …

“To one eye, the dogs look cheerful and comfortable. To another, the place might seem like a warehouse. One greyhound appears to stoop his head to fit in the cage; the others seem to have plenty of room to spare.

“The kennel’s owners welcomed a reporter, but no photographer, fearing how the cages might appear in pictures…”

I’m guessing that the cages might appear as they actually are — cameras being devices that record reality and all.

Supporters of the ban say greyhounds spent at least 20 hours a day in their cages.

The Globe article points out that “Like every assertion made in the debate over the ballot question, that contention is feverishly disputed by the other side. Trainers say their dogs get plenty of time outside, though they do have a hard time putting a number to it.”

Backers of the ballot measure believe greyhound racing constitutes animal abuse because of the industry’s excessive breeding practices, the cruel methods by which unwanted dogs are destroyed, the conditions in which many are forced to live and the number of injuries racing leads to.

The Humane Society of the United States believes no amount of reform could make the industry acceptable.

“The racing industry is inherently cruel. Greyhound racing is a form of gaming in which the amount of money a dog generates determines his or her expendability,” it says. “The answer for greyhounds is neither regulation nor adoption of “retired” dogs, but the elimination of the greyhound racing industry.”

Chews wisely: New Zealand’s doggie poll

Pet food company Masterpet has launched its own election poll in New Zealand, creating rubber chew toys in the likenesses of the two candidates for prime minister, Helen Clark and John Key.

The idea is, as with the Michael Vick chew toy (see below), dog owners will purchase the candidate toy they would most like to see chewed up and spat out, thereby determining which candidate is most likely,come election time, to be “dog tucker,” which means dog food in New Zealand and Australia.

Masterpet will monitor sales of the toys, and report results on the political blog kiwiblog.co.nz.

Masterpet North Island sales manager Peter Couchman urged people to make their choice quickly, saying that, as with politicians, the toy’s shelf life might be limited. 

“Early data in our reverse poll (the “dog tucker” poll) suggests a preference for Helen Clark. But this is one poll she may not want to be ahead in,” he said.

Early figures had  Clark (she’s the incumbent, and a member of the Labour Party) cornering 59 per cent of the chew toy market, far ahead of Key (he’s the multi-millionaire challenger, representing the National Party).

Masterpets offered a list of tips for those considering a purchase, including ”Wear suitable ear protection when supervising your dog’s playtime with the toy. As with real politicians, the squealing can become quite deafening… If your dog destroys the politician in the first five minutes don’t hold this against your dog – the media do it every week.”

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