I’ve been speculating over a year now, as to the next presidential pet to grace the White House? During the heated primaries, I reviewed each candidate’s pets on both sides of the aisle — and at the time it appeared that both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were the only two without a dog or cat — or horse for that matter.
But of course since Clinton nosed out Sanders in the primaries and Trump overtook Hillary in the general election, we now look to the president-elect for answers. After all, he’s been appointing cabinet members left and right — why not a dog or cat for the position of PPOTUS (Presidential Pet of the United States)?
Not only will President Trump be the only president in U.S. history with no military or political experience, he’ll be the first president in 150 years who will not bring a Fido or Fluffy into office.
Aside from the psychological benefits, presidential pets have more than not served to soften the leader of the free world's image. In some cases, they have even improved a president’s likability factor — and couldn’t Mr. Trump use some of that — particularly since according to a recent Gallup Poll, he has the lowest approval rating of any incoming president dating back several decades.
As it stands at this moment in time, Americans are evenly divided in their assessment of the way Donald Trump is handling his presidential transition, with 48% approving and 48% disapproving. By contrast, 65% or more approved of the way the past three presidents-elect were handling their transitions at similar points in time, with Barack Obama coming in at a healthy 75% in December 2008.
If not a Dog or Cat?
While in recent decades, presidents have pretty much stuck to cats and dogs, there is a history of some very unique animals taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Since the nation’s inception, presidential pets have even included wildlife. Martin Van Buren had tiger cubs, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt had bears, and Calvin Coolidge had a pygmy hippopotamus.
Obamas and the Water Dogs
Perhaps no administration has leveraged a pet to greater effect than the Obama’s. Even before taking office, Barack and Michelle garnered positive feedback by announcing that, win or lose the election, the Obama girls would be getting a dog. And today, Bo and Sunny are so popular that these two Portuguese Water Dogs have official White House schedules, which Michelle Obama approves at the beginning of each month.
Washington Post’s Lauren A. Wright surmises one possibility for Trump’s lack of a pet: “Trump is a self-identified ‘clean hands freak,’ (so, he) may be averse to the microbes that come with a four-legged friend.”
Also his run-in with a bald eagle did not help warm him up to animals. Recent science has shown that caring for animals is a big part of what teaches us empathy, since domesticated animals are completely dependent on the care they receive from human beings.
Another thought is the criticism he’s received from the Humane Society of the United States. Apparently the animal activist group has been critical of the new president’s close relationships with those who are not partial to animal causes, in addition to his sons, Don Jr. and Eric’s well documented passion for trophy hunting.
But than again, perhaps if his daughter is going to sub for first lady, she may bringing one of her pets to the White House. Oh wait . . . the only pets Ivanka and her husband care about our “pet projects” . . . not those of the four-legged kind! Oh well, we'll just have see if a pet-less White House can still remain a warm and fuzzy abode for the next four years? Anybody willing to make a horse-wager on that one?