Congress: We (heart) our little fluffy puppies SO MUCH yes we do yes love you don’t we schnookums


The chairman recognizes the distinguished representative of Wooftown

GateHouse — It is a time of great unrest in the legislative branch. Debate over the Iraq war is ripping the House and Senate apart, superfluous partisan wrangling seems to be at all-time highs, names and labels and accusations are being thrown like sliders past Alfonso Soriano, merciless barrages of spitwads are flying across the aisles, everyone’s giving each other Atomic Wedgies in the hallways and there’s been an epidemic of pantsings, which, needless to say, you do NOT want to happen in any group that includes Dennis Hastert.

Thank goodness, then, that despite all their feuding, their glorious time-wasting, their childish twittering, members of both parties can agree on one thing: Dogs are awesome.

On the day that a suicide bomber made his way into the Iraqi parliament (but, it should be noted, well before the horrors in Blacksburg), the Senate took up the issue of the contaminated pet food that’s been tearing apart both the kibble industry, as well as the world populated by people who eat pet food, and it’s not like I know anyone who does or anything, but come on. There’s gotta be more than you think, right?

Anyway, let us turn the floor over to some of our esteemed Senators, such as Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who said: “For many in America, pets are more than just companions — they are members of the family.”

“An important part of the family,” yapped Bob Bennett, R-Utah, the ranking GOPer on the panel.

“Arf!” said Princess, a small Jack Russell terrier who accidentally made her way into the proceedings and tore up a pillow.

Now I live in a pet-free house, but it’s not my fault: Dogs are a lot of extra work when you have a 3-year-old, and I’m not prepared to have two beings in the house who haven’t quite mastered the idea of where not to poop. Cats are nice, but if one wanders to within 300 yards of my respiratory system, it will cause my windpipe to clam shut. If anyone ever wants to kill me, jam a cat down my throat for about 30 seconds — there will be no evidence, except my gasping corpse and probably some little balls with bells in them very nearby. We have fish, but they’re kind of creepy fish — I don’t want to get into too many details here, but a few weeks ago I noticed one was missing, and shortly thereafter I saw a rib cage drift by. So I’m not the only one in the house who likes seafood. So does the seafood.

Anyway, I don’t have a dog now, but I used to, a small and lively terrier named Cutty, who possessed the fantastic trait of being able, when reasonably excited, to spray a delightful stream of urine all over anyone within about a 10-foot blast radius. But when she wasn’t soaking my jeans, she was as good as a dog could be, except for the time she devoured an entire box of 12 chocolate Santas, the adhesive aftermath of which is something I’d like to forget.

Anyway, again, my point is, I get the pet thing, although I can afford to, because as of this writing I am not in the United States Senate, largely due to that … unpleasantness at the dry cleaners, to which I can never go back.

But apparently I don’t get it as much as Sen. Robert Byrd, who has a Shih Tzu named Trouble, which he calls Baby, according to an AP reporter who should get a medal for detail-finding. “Our pets are our companions, our soul mates and our hedge against emotional turmoil,” said Byrd, 90, sounding a few kibbles short of his bits. Later Byrd called himself — not making this up — Popeye the Sailor Man, quoted the all-creatures-great-and-small poem, and touched back, once again, on Trouble. Er, Baby. “There is a unique, special relationship between pets, like my little dog. She is a Shih Tzu. They were lap dogs. They were trained to be lap dogs in the palace in Tibet, China.”

Where was this all going, you, as well as all residents of New Orleans and Baghdad, are likely wondering with breathless anticipation? More meetings, most likely. There will be investigations into the pet food scandal, you can be sure. And several meetings with committees. Then a brief trip outside so everyone can do their business, and then back inside for more. Next week in the Senate: favorite flavors of ice cream, and adorable koalas!


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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