The outrage experienced in the human community when President Barack Obama voiced his support for dog-killer Michael Vick was nothing compared to canine outrage around the globe. Actually, given their forgiving nature, reaction on the part of dogs could be described more accurately as disappointment rather than outrage.
For those of you out of the news loop during the busy holiday season, a quick update: Mr. Obama phoned Jeff Lurie, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, to give him a verbal pat on the ass for employing Michael Vick, the convicted dog-torturer, as the quarterback on his professional football team. The president congratulated Mr. Lurie for giving the former felon a “second chance.”
Mr. Obama is reputedly an avid sports fan, but by putting the Vick matter in the moral context of high-minded Christian forgiveness, he showed a disturbing ignorance of how professional sports work. Giving someone like Vick a “second chance” has nothing to do with forgiveness, Christian or otherwise: It has everything to do with winning games. If O.J. Simpson, guilty of the lesser crime of killing two human beings, were capable, even in his 60s, of running for over 100 yards a game, you can be certain that any number of NFL teams would find a way to parole him out of prison and hand him a jock strap and a helmet.
Given Mr. Obama’s disconcerting lapse in judgment vis--vis the crime of torturing and killing dogs, we thought it would be instructive to find out how the president’s own dog regarded the matter. Accordingly, we arranged an interview with Bo, the first family’s pet Portuguese water dog. Although Bo is reportedly making impressive strides in mastering English, it seemed more efficient to converse with him in his native Portuguese, so we brought along Maurice, a multilingual standard poodle to provide translation. (Poodles and Portuguese water dogs share a common progenitor originally employed by Germanic Goths on the Asian steppes; the poodle line developed from dogs who followed the Ostrogoths to Germany, and Portuguese water dogs descended from canines taken by the Visigoths to Portugal, where the highly intelligent breed was taught to herd fish and carry messages from ship to ship).
Deep End: First of all, do we have the correct spelling of your name? It is “Bo,” isn’t it?
Bo: Correct. “Beau” was thought to be somewhat foreign-sounding and pretentious. “Bo” sounds a lot more American, and given all the controversy over Barack’s heritage, it was decided to go with Bo.
DE: Do you call the president by his first name? That seems a bit familiar.
Bo: I did my best to address him as “Mr. President,” but the dental fricative in the last syllable was just beyond my linguistic capacity. Maybe my tongue is too long. Whatever the case, “Barak” was a lot easier, close as it is to “Bark.” Probably sounds the same to human ears.
DE: You must have heard by now that Bark, I mean President Obama, expressed sentiments favorable to the contemptible Michael Vick.
Bo: Our hearing is a lot better than yours, so, yes, I heard what he said.
DE: Who told you?
Bo: I heard it myself. I was curled up next to Sasha while she was doing her algebra homework, and I heard Barack on the telephone down in the Oval Office. Then, of course, I got an earful from other dogs. We have a pretty good information network.
DE: How do you feel about it?
Bo: Well, you know our species is loyal by nature, so frankly, it hurt my feelings. And because I’m a working dog, I have tried to contribute as much as I can, things like lifting my leg on the Republican guy with orange skin, or shoving my snout into the crotch of that guy from Utah with an obsession with people’s naughty bits. So, I feel a bit betrayed.
DE: Is the president aware of how you feel?
Bo: Hard to say. His head is in the clouds sometimes, so I don’t know if he notices when I take forever to do my business on the South Lawn. Usually he uses the time to sneak a couple of smokes and check his BlackBerry. I hold it in as long as I can, but he seems to like the extra time to light up another one. My new plan is to leave a present for him over on the basketball court.