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A collection of anecdotes about dogs and their politician owners

Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King poses with his dog Pat in an archival photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, National Archives of Canada
April 05, 2014 - 4:00 AM

Dogs have long been part of political life, for better or worse, in both Canada and the United States. Here's a few shaggy tales:

— Mackenzie King had a series of terriers, all named Pat, but one lived 17 years and was his true love. In his diaries, King recounted holding the deaf, nearly blind, 17-year-old Pat in his arms and singing "Safe in the arms of Jesus."

— Prime minister John Diefenbaker put his staff to work finding a symbolic name for a dog he was given after taking office in 1957. His first choice of Tory was overruled by staff concerned about editorial cartoonists having a field day, and the dog wound up as Happy.

— The last resident dog at 24 Sussex Drive was Clover, Brian Mulroney's standard poodle in the mid 1980s. Another of his poodles, Oscar, was banished to Harrington Lake, the prime ministerial summer residence, for misbehaviour.

— In 1993, a campaigning Liberal leader Jean Chretien made the news reels when he was almost nipped by a prospective voter's small dog as he reached in to pat it.

— Theodore Roosevelt kicked off his successful 1944 U.S. presidential campaign by invoking a claim by his Republican opponents that he'd sent a destroyer to the Aleutian Islands to fetch his Scottish terrier Fala. "These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me or my wife or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog Fala. Well of course I don't resent attacks and my family don't resent attacks, but Fala does resent them .... He has not been the same dog since."

— During Mitt Romney's first U.S. presidential bid in 2007, the Boston Globe recounted the story of a Romney trip north to Grand Bend, Ont., in 1983 with the family's Irish setter Seamus strapped to the roof of the car in a crate for the 12-hour ride. One of Romney's sons told the story to burnish his father's image but the tale incensed American dog lovers for years.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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