I think my dog is a republican. I’m a Democrat so it’s a little disheartening to suspect he’s playing for the other team. Of course, I could be imagining it. We all know Democrats are generally a pathetic lot—very insecure yet still acting superior and thumbing their noses at everybody. Even other Democrats. But it’s the way my dog looks off into the distance and rolls his eyes when I’m using the bathroom. I know he thinks it makes me elitist. Or when I’m voicing my “bleeding heart” views regarding non-registered AKC breeds and their right to use animal shelters. On the positive side, his family values are definitely less suspect than mine. Despite these opposite leanings, though, he keeps his dissatisfaction with me muted. He knows who keeps his biscuit box topped-off so he’s not about to split our ticket, if you know what I mean.
Now, I know my suspicions are based on cliches about what each party stands for, ones that we’ve been told over and over again and which don’t necessarily have any basis in reality. And that’s a problem. Like my fear that he has more Fox in him than I do. Of course I’m referring to the channel, not the animal. I’ve seen him sneaking in some Sean Hannity when he should be outside protecting our house from rabid squirrels, or whatever it is his breed is supposed to do. It’s what initially raised my eyebrows with regard to his political bent. Not that I believe that Fox represents all Republicans—just like I don’t think MoveOn.org represents all Democrats. It’s just that it’s all gotten so left/right extreme these days that it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever agree on anything.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes I fantasize—and in my better moments, actually believe— that we’re all more centrist than we let on and that most Democrats and Republicans are fair-minded people with well-intentioned differences. I even think that if we all tried our hardest to fetch our true Inner Patriot, the same dog would come running to us all. In this scenario, we actually have something in common, a shared pool of beliefs and behavior, of likes and dislikes that we can use to bridge our disagreements and maybe even learn from each other.
There is no better illustration of this than my relationship with my dog. For example, when people walk into our house, he immediately runs up to them and sticks his nose into their nether regions. Now, I don’t know where you think I’m going with this, but I want to make clear that it’s not an example of our shared behavior. I don’t do that. Have never done that. Well, maybe once on a job interview. What I’m trying to say is that I can still learn from him and bridge the gap by trying to understand why he does it. He does it, not because he’s a Republican but because he’s a dog. Breakthrough! It’s the way they get to know a person quickly and to get a better measure of the man or woman, no matter their party affiliation.
Now I’m not suggesting that Democrats and Republicans should cross the aisle and start sniffing each others’ crotches. But I’m willing to learn from my Republican dog and suggest that maybe, between humans, a firm handshake and an honest look in the eye would accomplish much the same thing and go a long way in getting to know each other and solving our differences. Who knows, it might even be more bracing then sticking your head up a skirt. Probably not, but I’m willing to try it. The handshake that is.
The notion that I, a Democrat, understand my dog—who is, let’s face it, a dog and a Republican—better than Mitch McConnell understands Chuck Schumer (and vice versa) is troubling. If my dog and I can bridge millions of years of DNA mutations, as well as broad societal and political differences—not to mention the daunting gulf that separates our preferences for Alpo Chop House (he likes the Savory Sauce while I’m all over the Gourmet Gravy)— then surely the politicians in Washington can do the same.
Now what’s this got to do with pet travel? you may be asking yourself. Well, nothing. And everything. If we want our politicians to get along, then we as a people need to get along. It’s easy to blame them but we need to set an example. And what’s the best way to this? By taking your pet with you when you visit different parts of the country–no matter whether your destination is “red” or “blue”. Ever notice that neither color exists under your dog’s feet? To the contrary, he probably gets you talking to people you otherwise probably wouldn’t. It makes no difference what your political positions are. You are just dog lovers. Human beings. You talk and you laugh. You take joy in what you have in common, rather than in your differences. Voila! Now that’s a grassroots revolution worth joining.
Even my cat agrees with me on this issue. I know this because my cat is a Democrat. Though, come to think of it, she’s been wearing a Rand Paul button on her collar lately and questioning my right to exist.
Uh, oh. A Libertarian. Never mind. That’s another bag of kibble altogether.