With all the rancor in Washington these days, there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for frivolous fluff pieces about prospective presidential pets. Still, in some quarters, people are seriously interested in the question of whether new President Donald Trump will get a dog. If nothing else, it has implications for trivia enthusiasts, as we could be looking at the first pooch-less presidency in, well, a dog’s age.
If President Trump does get a dog at some point, a good followup question might be: Will he end up firing the poor animal? Just look at the following tweets:
Wow, great news! I hear @EWErickson of Red State was fired like a dog. If you read his tweets, you'll understand why. Just doesn't have IT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2015
I hear that sleepy eyes @chucktodd will be fired like a dog from ratings starved Meet The Press? I can't imagine what is taking so long!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 13, 2015
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2013
Maybe the president doesn’t understand this because he’s apparently never had a pet, but dogs generally aren’t on the payroll and thus aren’t subject to firing. The guy whose catchphrase is “you’re fired!” should know this. Then again, there are other areas where he seems confused about man’s best friend…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2015
Dogs aren’t especially known for choking, although this does seem like a good time to warn you against giving Fido turkey legs.
.@BrentBozell, one of the National Review lightweights, came to my office begging for money like a dog. Why doesn't he say that?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2016
Dogs typically don’t beg for money, unless it’s been slathered in barbecue sauce or bacon grease. That said, it’s true that some panhandlers and street musicians seem to get better results when they have a canine sidekick in tow.
Maybe the most well-known example of all comes from the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which then-candidate Trump described his pursuit of a married woman. “I moved on her like a bitch,” he recounted to Billy Bush. Who’s supposed to be the bitch, and why, is up for debate.
What’s Behind This Obsession With Dogs?
To be sure, the English language contains an absolutely ridiculous number of expressions related to dogs. You can be sick as a dog. You can work like a dog (or, alternatively, you can dog it). You can be a lucky dog, a sly dog, or top dog.
But fired like a dog? That’s a new one.
It’s possible that the president is just overly enthusiastic about dog idioms (like a dog with a bone, perhaps?). However, you may have noticed a common thread in a lot of these comments. It’s pretty clear that in the president’s mind, a dog is someone who has been humiliated in one way or another.
Maybe Trump sees dogs as subservient creatures that people are free to abuse without repercussions. In fact, there’s an expression for this: looking for a dog to kick. It means taking out your frustrations on someone who can’t fight back.
Another possibility is that Trump’s choice of words reflects the competitive (dog-eat-dog) world of business. In this context, people have a place in a hierarchical order, with key concepts such as dominance, pack mentality, and alpha males. From this very canine point of view, the people Trump is talking about are all being put in their place.
While we’re speculating, we might also venture to guess that the new president doesn’t have a very high opinion of dogs. That’s hardly a shocker, considering he’s an admitted germophobe who’s never owned a dog in his 70 years. The fact that he uses the word “dog” to insult his political foes is just further evidence.
Still, despite all that, don’t be surprised if dog winds up in the Trump White House. Every president in the last 150 years has taken advantage of the public’s widespread belief that dog people are good people. You might say that presidential politics have been going to the dogs for a very long time.