Despite Partisan Rancor, Democrats And Republicans Can Agree On Dogs
I cover Congress, and one of the coolest secrets about my job is the furry, four-legged friend I get to bring to work everyday.
Mickey Chang is my effervescent, forever loving, black and white Shih Tzu. You may not know this, but the U.S. Capitol is the most dog-friendly workplace you will ever find. And come on — anyone who has to watch Congress all day needs a therapy dog.
Besides, Mickey loves schmoozing with senators.
Lawmakers have been bringing their dogs to the Capitol since the 1800s, according to the Senate Historian's Office.
"In the late 19th century and the early 20th century, all the reporting about dogs has to do with dogs fighting or being on the loose in some way," says Assistant Senate Historian Dan Holt.
He says senators used to bring their hunting dogs into the Old Senate Chamber — to sit right by their feet during floor debates.
"The best story I found was Sen. George Edmunds of Vermont had a bull terrier. ... It was a dog that was bred for fighting, but he was very meek and didn't want to fight. And then one day, the dog got into a tussle with another dog, and from that day on, it had a taste for blood, and got into other fights with other senators' dogs," Holt says.
But it wasn't all blood and brawling. There were the dogs famous for their loving companionship. Sen. Thomas Schall of Minnesota, who was blind, had a beloved guide dog named Lux in the 1920s. A big Rottweiler named Mr. Ling used to ride in a Cadillac to work with Sen. Robert Kerr of Oklahoma. Sen. Harry Byrd of Virginia was always seen with a cocker spaniel named Candy. And two Portuguese water dogs, named Sunny and Splash, constantly flanked Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.
If you want a friend in D.C., get a dog
Cali is a nine-year-old miniature dachshund who belongs to Republican Rep. Ken Calvert of California. Apparently, she's not crazy about kids or other dogs.
And she has a habit of stowing away treats under the couch cushions.
"You never know when tough times are going to come around. She's a saver. Good conservative dog," Calvert says.
Cali had been a fixture on the Capitol Hill since she was eight weeks old. Calvert says it's nice to have one loyal friend in Congress.
"You want to see a friendly face. You know, Harry Truman said if you want to have a friend, get a dog. Sometimes that's true around here in Washington, D.C.," he says.
There are plenty of people on the other side of aisle who agree. Like House Democrat Bill Foster of Illinois. Roaming around his office is an Alaskan Klee Kai named Shadow. She looks like a small husky.
"You know, being on the Financial Services Committee here — I use Shadow to investigative possible threats in the shadow banking system," Foster jokes.
Foster says the reason Congress should have more dogs around is based on pure science.
"One of the fundamental scientific discoveries of the dog-human relationship is that when a dog looks into his master's eyes, you have a release of oxytocin — which is the trust hormone, the love hormone," says Foster. "I think the amount of love and trust on Capitol Hill is often in short supply, and having more dogs here would probably make this place work better and maybe in a more bipartisan manner."
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