Going to the Dogs: Political Canine Controversy is Nothing New 

Flystock / shutterstock.com
Flystock / shutterstock.com

In her recent memoir titled “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward,” South Dakota governor Kristi Noem disclosed that she euthanized her 14-month-old dog, Cricket. This decision stemmed from Cricket’s disruptive behavior during a pheasant hunt, an attack on chickens belonging to another family, and an attempt to bite Noem. Noem characterized Cricket as “aggressive” and being resistant to training. Following these incidents, Noem took Cricket to a gravel pit and shot her. 

Critics argue that the decision to euthanize Cricket reflects a failure in adequately training bird dogs rather than inherent flaws in the animal. It was pretty big talk for people who had never met the dog or seen her potential for aggression. 

The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political action committee, released an advertisement condemning the act of shooting a dog as a response to pet-related challenges. 

In doing so, they prove only their ignorance. Noem had small children at the time, and Cricket was, at an early age, displaying signs that she would grow into an aggressive and untrustworthy canine. Noem would be held responsible if her dog killed livestock on her neighbor’s farms. Noem would be held accountable if Cricket had bitten a person. Noem also knew that rehoming an aggressive dog seldom ends well for the new owners or the dog.  

Noem did what a responsible dog owner should do. And, as a product of her country roots, she did it in the way rural folks have done for generations. It sounds harsh, but it’s a slightly different world in rural South Dakota than the streets of Washington, D.C., or New York City. 

A single gunshot is an effective and fast way to put an animal to sleep. And, in rural areas, it’s called a “five-cent solution” for livestock issues of all sorts, including injuries or behavioral problems, as distasteful as the practice may seem. 

There is a difference between a responsible dog owner and, say, President Joe Biden. Commander, Biden’s German Shepherd, was involved in at least 25 biting incidents within less than a year. Commander’s victims included White House staff, Secret Service agents, and Navy personnel. Injuries included bites to the arms, hands, thighs, back, wrists, elbows, waist, chest, and even to an agent’s ammunition magazine pouch. At least 11 of these incidents necessitated medical attention. 

Commander was the replacement for Biden’s first presidential pup, Major. Major also had a couple of bites under his belt, including a White House security officer and a National Park Service employee. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s dog bit United States Senator Hattie Wyatt Caraway and attacked U.K. Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, nearly tearing his pants off. 

President Barack Obama recounted a story in his memoir, Dreams from My Father, in which he was “introduced” to eating dog meat and other unpalatable protein sources. He described dog meat as “tough.” 

Self-proclaimed climate czar Mitt Romney faced backlash for transporting his family dog, Irish Setter Seamus, in a carrier tied to the top of a vehicle for a 650-mile family trip in 1983. Midway through the journey, Seamus experienced diarrhea, leading to brown liquid streaming down the car’s back window, much to the children’s dismay. Romney stopped at a gas station to rinse off Seamus, the carrier, and the vehicle before continuing the journey with Seamus back in the rooftop kennel. 

Romney stated that Seamus enjoyed being in the rooftop carrier, which he called an “air-tight kennel.” Ann Romney, Mitt’s wife, compared it to riding a motorcycle or being in the bed of a pickup truck. 

Dogs are man’s best friend, but occasionally, dogs aren’t the sweet and sunny Benji and Lassie owners hope they will be. When they aren’t, owners can ignore the problem, as Biden did, or handle it, as Noem did.  

Sometimes, in the case of Romney, euthanizing the owner seems a better option. 

Never forget that the only reason Biden rescued his dogs was to avoid the criticism faced by his predecessor, Donald Trump, who responsibly acknowledged that while he didn’t dislike dogs, he was not in a position to give one the attention it needed while he was in the White House. 

For dog lovers with common sense, Noem’s actions were a necessary, albeit heartbreaking, part of responsible dog ownership. Her incident is worse than others because she was on a short-list of potential running mates for Trump.