A First Puppy

In this wonderfully diverse country of ours, there are many things to disagree about. But on one thing, I think we can agree.

The White House is a good place for a first puppy.

Why? Because puppies need a lot of staff support and the White House staff is just about big enough for the job.

To prove my point, let’s stop to analyze staffing needs for some ordinary cats and dogs, say those here at the farm. In our office, we need six people on the day shift and four people on the night shift to minimally take care of the needs of the resident two dogs and three cats.

First there is the staff needed for door opening. During the day, these door opening demands fall squarely on whomever is closest to the door (Sophie) or whomever is most attentive to May May’s various methods of getting our attention (Jane). This is important because May May takes at least twenty sixth trips outside each day to see what has happened since she was last outside four minutes before.

And the cats? They need at least one more trip outside than May May each day, because let’s face it, cats are the real alpha dogs in any household.

And door duty at night? We all take turns. It’s Jim’s job.

As far as the first puppy goes, he or she will be blessed with door people at all 412 doors in the White House. That’s an actual, certifiable, fun fact about the White House. There are 412 doors for the first puppy to get people to open. Not a bad gig for a dog.

In addition to the pleasure provided by having so many humans waiting to open so many doors, the first puppy will also have the pleasure of truly gourmet canine cuisine. Here at the farm we need a battery of imaginative chefs and nutritionists for canine and feline banquets. Sadly, we bumble along with a reduced staff of just two of us, me and William. And dinner ain’t always pretty as a consequence.

But the first puppy will have five full time White House chefs at his or her beck and call. Five. That should be enough.

At Green Hope Farm, we need at least three people to supervise the dogs’ lunchtime walk and at least one person for their afternoon run. Our dogs frollick in the woods, not in the well manicured Rose Garden, so theoretically we have less pooper scooping to do than the first puppy’s people. But Jim’s contention is that May May and Riley save everything for the most visible spots on our lawn. So we let nature take its course it’s Jim that scoops. At the White House, there will be a multitude of available staffers assigned to walk and run the first puppy, as well as follow behind with a pooper scoop.

In winter, our dogs and cats need lots of windows to look out and lots of couches to jump on. Even the beds have come into play lately, because May May has begun to sleep on a guest bed. She actually puts her head on the pillow (Please don’t tell our Thanksgiving guests this or they may bring their own sheets….or decide not to visit).

The first puppy will have 132 rooms in which to find the most comfortable couches and beds and ample staff to clean the sheets or slipcovers when the first paws are muddy. The first puppy will also have 147 windows from which to admire the view. Sometimes the first puppy will be watching things like the presidential helicopter take off from the south lawn. Sometimes the first puppy will just be checking out the squirrels. Again, there will be ample staff to clean any windows drooled on during squirrel or helicopter observation. Here, the window washer is named Jim and there are squirrels but no helicopters.

In the country, we worry about our animals getting eaten by coyotes or fisher cats at night. No one Jim does not sleep until the cats are in for the evening. We depend on well trained whistlers Jim to gather our feline troops at dusk. For the dogs, we depend on well trained leashes handlers Jim to take the dogs out one last time at night, then bring them back in too. While there are probably not a lot of coyotes on Pennsylvania Avenue, I imagine the first puppy will also need a last call in the gardens before being ushered into the safety of the White House each night. Last time I checked, the White House had a lot of people handlers on staff. Some of them will be lucky enough to now morph into the much easier job of dog handler.

On winter evenings we gathered around our woodstove with animals flopped on top of all of us. For the first puppy, there will be 28 fireplaces to choose from for quiet family evenings. Probably like here, the first puppy will prefer lying on the male head of household when particularly wet or muddy. Probably like here, this will happen especially when the male head of household is particularly clean and dry, say, ready for a state or PTA dinner.

So to sum up. White House staffing for the first puppy should be ample.

BUT, were Jim here he would want to add his own caveat to my conclusion.

If he were to send a memo to President elect Obama, it would read, “Even with a staff of thousands, you are going to running the country AND be in charge of the first puppy.”

And he’s got a point.

PS St. Jim asked his sixth grade class what they would name the first puppy if they were in charge. Their suggestions included Lincoln, Liberty, Abe, Freedom, Springfield, Rosa, Selma, Tubman, Harriet, Martin, Hope, Robinson, Lucky, and Mr. President. Let’s face it, that last choice is probably the closest to reality. The first puppy will be in charge of everyone at the White House. Just ask May May when she wakes up from her nap in time for her home cooked dinner. She’ll agree with this assessment.

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