Camaign enters the dog days

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by John Shindlebower


The presidential race has now gone to the dogs — officially.
Presumed Rep-ublican nominee Mitt Romney has come under fire for a decision he made nearly three decades ago involving the family dog. Apparently, while on trips, Mitt’s mutt would be placed in an animal crate, which would then be strapped to the top of the vehicle, and on down the road the family would go. While the site of a dog with his head out the window taking in the 55 mile per hour breeze is nothing new to most of us who have spent time on the road, the image of a boxed Irish Setter sitting on top of the family car might cause most of us to do a double take.

Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has reminded the American public of a little-reported instance from Barack Obama’s life that the president wrote about in his book “Dreams of My Father.” As a child living with his stepfather in Indonesia, Obama was served up a plate of pooch, which he dutifully consumed. Apparently it was all part of a diet we Americans are not used to, and also included things such as snake and grasshoppers.
What are we, the voting public, to make of these incidents? Americans love dogs and even the slightest abuse or mistreatment of our four-legged friends are not taken lightly. As a nation, we spend a fortune on our pets. We have resorts for our dogs, schools for our dogs, cemeteries for our dogs, even therapists for our dogs. Dogs and man have a special bond. Dogs lead the blind, find the lost, help our police officers and military. Even the most untrained dog provides a level of comfort and companionship on a bad day.
Now we’re asked to choose for our president between a man who put his dog on top of a car, and a man who once ate dog? What kind of choice is that?
Maybe we’re making too much of Caninegate. The stories are shocking, but before we presume both candidates unworthy of the highest office in the land, perhaps we should exercise a little reason.
Romney’s dog was in an approved animal carrier and apparently it was strapped down securely on top of the vehicle. Apparently, on one such trip they traveled many hours and never aroused enough suspicion to warrant being pulled over or accosted by the public. Besides, don’t dogs generally enjoy the feel of the breeze through their hair? I’ve seen countless dogs enjoying a ride in the back of a truck with the wind in their face.
I guess the bottom line for me is, was it really that dangerous? If I recall, didn’t Granny Clamplett ride all the way across the country strapped to a rocking chair on the back of a flatbed truck? She arrived at her new mansion as feisty and lively as ever.
As for Obama eating dog, we should remember he was just a child. It’s likely he didn’t even know what he was eating. I remember my grandpa tricking me into eating rabbit, which to this day I claim was the best fried chicken I ever had.
It will be a long campaign and no telling what else will surface between now and November. But every dog has his day, and hopefully this one will pass by quickly and we can focus on issues that are really important before Election Day.
• John Shindlebower is a freelance columnist and a former editor with Landmark Community Newspapers at The Spencer Magnet in Taylorsville.