Phew. The world has been out of kilter the last years, but as of this week we can, with sure and certain hope, looking forward to something good: there will again be a dog in the White House. Better than that – there will be two dogs.

When I come into our house the first thing I see is a photo of our dog, Skippy. He’s in today’s header. He really was a dog, although it was clear from the start that he knew he was more human than the rest of us. He was a mongrel, the result of when his Deutsche Drahthaar mother somehow got involved with a local beagle, and he was advertised for free in the local paper. It was love at first sight for everyone involved, and he enriched our lives for 12 years. At the end he was an old dog with no appetite, obviously in pain, leaving puddles on the floor which embarrassed him frightfully. My son said “I think he has kein Bock* mehr” (*kein Bock is a German idiom and means to not want to do anything).

I spoke to a dear friend of mine, a dog lover too, and I will never forget her words. “Carys, you have to be brave. You mustn’t let him suffer.” and so I rang the vet, who kindly came to our house. My daughter was far away, falling in love with Borneo, but my son was here and we went and sat outside in the sun whilst the injection did its work. Afterwards we put his body in the wheelbarrow and wheeled him into the garden and buried him, wrapped in a piece of my daughter’s baby blanket.

He was a wonderful dog, a wonderful friend to all of us, and there’s a hazlenut tree on top of him now.

The White House dogs-elect are Major (12) and Champ (a rescue dog, now aged 2), and are both German shepherds.

Here are Major and Champ on Instagram:

When I was little, dogs like that were called ‘Alsatians’ in the UK, their breed having been renamed to avoid any connection with the enemy, Germany. That changed in 1977 when breeders finally re-claimed the name.

30 of 44 US Presidents have kept dogs as pets, starting from George Washington. Before the present inhabitant of the White House, the last President not to have a dog was William McKinley, over 100 years ago.

British Prime Ministers have also had pets:

The history of Downing Street pets

The current Downing St cat is called Larry, and you an follow him on twitter:

Many of my participants tell me about their cats, and I can see that they love them as dearly as loved Skippy.

But we all know who is man’s (and woman’s, and children’s) Best Friend.

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