There is something mysteriously absent from the White House these days and people are starting to talk about it.
No, not Melania, although that’s a solid guess.
I’m referring, of course, to the lack of a White House pet for the first time in more than 150 years.
Even Vice President Mike “Bonecrusher” Pence has famously installed two cats, a rabbit (with its own Instagram account) and a snake in the official residence on the U.S. Naval Observatory grounds. (You can see the bat signal better from there, I guess.)
Shortly after his election, there was speculation Trump, who reportedly has never had a pet, would welcome to the White House a goldendoodle that had been offered to the family by a Palm Beach pal. A goldendoodle, to those of you who aren’t familiar, is half golden retriever and half Cheez Doodles.
But Patton, named for one of Trump’s “very strong” generals, actually never moved in. The press, following up on the absence of a dog of any kind in the White House, was told Patton’s owner had “fallen in love with the dog” and decided to keep him, despite widespread reports that young Barron Trump was already besotted with the pup.
(Hey, I’m not the monster here.)
This isn’t as bad as Mitt (“Mitt”) Romney tying the family dog to the top of the station wagon that time, but it’s not great.
And, yes, I know that Romney story has a few holes in it. I think the dog was actually glued to the top, but whatever.
The only other mention of pets in the Trump White House came early in his first year when the president reportedly referred to the Pence family’s menagerie as “low class.”
Which makes me think there will never be a White House pet during the Trump years, which are like dog years in that each one feels more like seven years, amiright?
Truth is, with Trump’s personal approval ratings at a record low in January, he may want to reconsider not bringing Patton to Washington. Studies have shown dogs make people seem more likable. George W. Bush, faced with growing animosity from a war-weary public, practically used Scottish terrier Miss Beazley as a shield when striding from the White House to hop onto the “whirly riding thingamabob.”
The same tactic was embraced by Bill Clinton, who was hounded by the press before, during and after impeachment proceedings. During that dark time, Clinton was often shown with Buddy the Labrador retriever or Socks the cat. Although, studies have also shown when it comes to generating the most favorable optics, cats are less successful because “dog owners are believed to be less neurotic than cat owners.”
As a lifelong cat person, I find this off-putting and a tad ridiculous. Now please place the “oregano” jar to the left of the “parsley” just as you found it. Must I remind you, once again, that alphabetized spices are all that separate us from the savages?
My work is never done.
— Wilmington, North Carolina’s Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.