It was just days before Christmas in 1947 when the phone rang inside Brigadier General Wallace H. Graham’s White House office. The highly decorated military officer, who was serving as physician to President Harry S. Truman, had just returned from Walter Reed Army Hospital, where he regularly performed surgeries each morning.
A reporter was calling to ask what Dr. Graham thought of his new assignment. The doctor seemed surprised by the question.
“I hear you’re going to get a dog,” stated the journalist.
“I’m going to get a what?” asked the general incredulously.
“You’re going to get a spaniel,” offered the reporter, explaining that news had reached him that President Harry Truman, locked in a competitive campaign for the presidency, had decided to get a dog.
“I’m a lover of nature, dogs, flowers and people,” Dr. Graham stated, indicating he was delighted to hear of the president’s choice – and that he had been chosen to help train the chief executive’s canine companion.
“You want a friend in Washington?” President Truman was said to have once reflected. “Get a dog.”
Man’s best friend is no stranger to Washington or the White House, from Abraham Lincoln’s dog, Fido, to President Roosevelt’s famed dog, Falla, Truman’s Fella and more recently, President Obama’s Portuguese Water Dog, Bo, dogs have romped inside and outside the mansion for a couple hundred years.
In fact, President Trump was the first president in 118 years to not have a dog in the White House, a fact that he chalked up to not having enough time to take care of one.
According to the most recent statistics, close to 50 million American households own at least one dog, with many having two or three.
The late Arthur Conan Doyle, the British doctor and author who created the legendary character Sherlock Holmes, once suggested that our dogs are a mirror of our personalities.
“A dog reflects the family life,” he wrote. “Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.”
There are many who would love to see President Trump welcome in a rescue or shelter dog this next week, a grand gesture that might go a long way in ingratiating himself to dog-lovers across the country.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, have recently had two German shepherds, Champ and Major.
Mr. Biden received criticism for buying Champ from a breeder. Major arrived in 2018, a rescued puppy who had been exposed to toxins.
If you ask me, dogs are a gift from God. Morning or evening, summer or winter, bull or bear market, they’re almost always in a good mood. Yes, they require work and sometimes frustration, but what doesn’t?
Dogs keep us company when we’re lonely, cheer us up when we’re sad, calm us down when we’re mad, teach us patience when they mess up, force us to exercise when we’re feeling lazy, protect us when we’re feeling scared – and remind us that everybody needs somebody.
So, whether Mr. Trump has 3 months or 4 years and 3 months left in the White House, I hope he gets a dog. After all the political skirmishes and controversies these last few years, Harry Truman’s counsel may prove prescient, indeed. Come what may, whatever dog President Trump selects, you can be sure his canine companion will remain loyal to the end – a rare thing in politically divided Washington.
Photo from mptvimages.com/REUTERS
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