Despite Partisan Rancor, Democrats And Republicans Can Agree On Dogs The tunnels and offices of Capitol Hill bustle with lawmakers, lobbyists, reporters — and dogs. NPR's Ailsa Chang takes her dog, Mickey, to meet some congressional canines.
NPR logo

Despite Partisan Rancor, Democrats And Republicans Can Agree On Dogs

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/506045506/506045507" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Despite Partisan Rancor, Democrats And Republicans Can Agree On Dogs

Despite Partisan Rancor, Democrats And Republicans Can Agree On Dogs

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/506045506/506045507" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

So I usually cover Congress. And one of the coolest secrets about my job is the furry, four-legged friend I get to bring to work every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hi, Mickey.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Hey, Mickey.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Mickey.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hi. Hey, Mickey.

CHANG: Meet Mickey Chang, my effervescent, forever-loving, black-and-white Shi Tzu. You may not know this, but the U.S. Capitol is the most dog-friendly workplace you will ever find.

Jump up. Up, up, up. Good boy.

And come on, anyone who has to watch Congress all day needs a therapy dog. Besides, Mickey loves it here. He loves schmoozing with the senators.

ANGUS KING: Hi, Mickey.

CHANG: This is Senator Angus King.

KING: Mickey, the Senate dog - I like it.

CHANG: Yeah.

KING: How are you, Ailsa?

CHANG: I'm good. How are you?

KING: Good.

CHANG: OK. So at this point, you might be wondering - how is it that I get to bring a dog to the U.S. Capitol every day? The Senate historian's office didn't have anything on congressional canines yet until we got assistant historian Dan Holt on the case.

DANIEL HOLT: I thought, we should definitely have a file on dogs. And now I have a stack of articles about this big, and they're going into a file. And we will be able to reference them in the future.

CHANG: I think you should mark your territory, so to speak...

HOLT: (Laughter).

CHANG: ...On this topic.

Holt says lawmakers have been bringing their dogs to the U.S. Capitol since the 1800s.

HOLT: So the first thing's that in the late 19th century and the early 20th century, all the reporting about dogs has to do with dogs fighting or being on the loose in some way.

CHANG: He says senators used to bring their hunting dogs into the old Senate chamber to sit right by their feet during floor debates.

HOLT: The best story I found was Senator George Edmunds of Vermont had a bull terrier. And there's this long story about how it was a dog that was bred for fighting, but he was very meek and didn't want to fight. And then one day, the dog got into a tussle with another dog. And from that day on, it had a taste for blood...

(LAUGHTER)

CHANG: Wait, so what...

HOLT: ...And got into other fights with other senators' dogs.

CHANG: Whoa.

Hi.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)

CHANG: As you can hear, a century and a half later, tensions still run high. This is Cali, a miniature dachshund who belongs to Republican Congressman Ken Calvert of California.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG GROWLING)

CHANG: Apparently, Cali has a habit of stowing away treats under the couch cushions.

KEN CALVERT: You never know when tough times are going to come around. So she's a saver, you know, a good conservative dog.

CHANG: (Laughter).

Calvert says it's nice to have one loyal friend in Congress. And there are plenty of people on the other side of the aisle who agree, like Democrat Bill Foster of Illinois.

BILL FOSTER: I think that the amount of love and trust on Capitol Hill is often in short supply. And having more dogs here would probably make this place work better and maybe in a more bipartisan manner.

CHANG: Roaming around Foster's office is an Alaskan Klee Kai, who looks like a small husky.

CHANG: Is this Shadow?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: This is Shadow.

CHANG: Hi, Shadow.

I watched Shadow and Mickey interact and wondered - can lawmakers learn a thing or two about love and trust from dogs?

(SOUNDBITE OF DOGS WHIMPERING, GROWLING)

CHANG: Maybe not.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAT STEVENS' "WAS DOG A DOUGHNUT")

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.