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Winning the pup-ular vote

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Less fortunate was Lyndon Johnson who scandalized dog owners by picking up one of his two beagles by the ears. Presidents by that time knew the value of being considered dog lovers and Mr. Johnson was a consummate politician, but he stumbled badly with the ear-pulling incident. "Those Republicans are really bashing me about picking those darned dogs up by the ears," he grumbled to his vice-president Hubert Humphrey. There were possibly other issues involved in Mr. Johnson's decision not to run for a second term, but Beaglegate certainly wouldn't have helped.

Harry Truman, who defended Johnson, is rumored to have said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." He didn't have a dog, and perhaps should have listened to his own advice. In office Truman managed to score among the lowest public opinion polls of any president.

George W. Bush has had two Scotties (Barney and Miss Beasley), and the late Spot, a springer spaniel and son of Millie, the White House dog when the first George Bush was president. However, we hardly hear any news about them any more. They might not have been able to boost the president's image miraculously at its lowest, but they might, at least, help.

Theodore Roosevelt had a virtual zoo in the White House, including six children. The kids had ponies, lizards, rats, squirrels, and even bears and a garter snake named Emily Spinach. Teddy also had a bull terrier, Pete, who was banished from the White House after he ripped the britches of the French ambassador. Given Teddy's pugnacious image, it's hard to imagine his dog doing anything else.

Caroline Kennedy's dog, Pushinka, was a gift from Nikita Khrushchev and though no doubt had a most thorough exam to make sure the dog was not implanted with listening devices, may have also represented a bridge to the Soviet Union.

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