Are Presidential Pups A Political Strategy?

June 14, 2012

According to the Washington Post, a recent article titled, “Unleashing Presidential Power: The Politics of Pets in the White House,” explores whether dogs and cats in the White House are used as a political strategy. When the public hears of the President getting a dog, like Bill Clinton’s chocolate lab, Buddy, or Obama’s, Portuguese water dog, Bo, they are usually pretty excited. But after this, it seems the White House may carefully select when the dog is seen.

The Post notes that for ages, Presidents have had pets. We even did a roundup of 20 of the most adorable presidential pooches which prove this a correct statement! While there hasn’t been extensive study of presidential dogs and cats, the article’s authors began their exploration by sorting through major newspapers and finding articles about presidents’ pets from the 1960s to today.
Here’s the chart found in the article:

What seemed to be true was that dogs in the White House can serve as diversions for the public. They were more viewed when there was international conflict and less so during hard economic times. The authors of the article wrote, “We surmise that diversionary pets are a political liability when their frolicking on the White House lawn in hard times might cue the public that not everyone in the country is suffering equally and that being president is not a full-time job.”
There are limitations to the study according to its authors, in that reporters may have simply decided not to write about White House pets, which would have affected the data.¬†Either way, this is a really interesting take on presidential dogs and we’re intrigued to know more (dog walking new York).

Sources: Washington Post, image source:

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