By Ari Mostow | Staff Writer
With 124 days until the election, it has been hard for me to think about anything else. We are about to have one of the most consequential moments in our lifetimes, possibly in U.S. history. But lately, I have noticed that Rocco, my five-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, does not seem to care at all about politics. I can’t even be sure that he knows the candidates, since Rocco gives me the same reaction whether I’m talking about Donald Trump or Joe Biden: he just looks at me with his ears perked up and runs to his food bowl. As if kibble is the only thing that matters. Ugh.
In an effort to educate my dog, I have developed some useful talking points for getting him to grasp the seriousness of this election. If you are a dog owner, I hope you’ll find this advice useful:
- Frame important social issues in terms of squirrels and crows:
Dogs hate squirrels and crows. Or at least, they bark at them a lot until they go away. So what I do is, I take my dog out for a walk – then, whenever he sees a squirrel, I shout “GLOBAL WARMING!” Likewise, whenever he sees a crow, I shout “SUPREME COURT! RUTH BADER GINSBERG!” This creates a kind of cognitive association of sorts, in which Rocco will start to realize that he’s not just barking at neighborhood critters; he’s barking at the most important social issues of our time.
- Compare our global pandemic to a squirrel:
Look, I’ll say it again: dogs hate squirrels. That’s about 50 percent of it. (The other 50 percent is crows.) Having realized this fact, I now use it to my advantage: I kneel down so that I’m on eye level with Rocco, and I whisper, “Hey. This whole pandemic… is a squirrel.” The last time I did that, Rocco crapped on the carpet. I’m not sure if his poop was a political statement (as if to say “I agree, this public health crisis stinks”), or if the issue was simply that Rocco has not been housebroken yet. Either way, while I was OxyCleaning up that pile of dung from the rug, I smiled to myself over the possibility that Rocco was finally beginning to understand the high stakes of this election.
- Shave off all of your dog’s fur and give it to a billionaire.
One of the things I hope to educate my dog about is the economic injustice of tax breaks for the elite while only the working class pays their fair share. And that’s why you should shave off all of your dog’s fur so they look like a little pink demon, and then donate the fur to Elon Musk. Your dog will be very aggravated, since a billionaire like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos could easily afford to buy their own fur. Rocco’s still pissed about it. In fact, he bit me the other day, but that’s all part of the growing process.
- Put a piece of chicken in your hand but tell your dog he can’t eat it until he votes.
Dogs LOVE chicken. Even that bland, skinless chicken breast that was in my fridge for two weeks until I realized I hadn’t thrown it away and then I gave it to Rocco and he had diarrhea on the carpet again – but I digress. Anyway, what you do is you stick a piece of chicken in your hand, and just as your dog is slobbering and drooling over that poultry meat, you say, “I’ll give this to you on November 3rd, but only if you go out and vote.” I tried this on Rocco the other day, and he gave me that classic ‘what-about-a-third-party-candidate’ look. No dice, Rocco. You can’t just waste your vote in an election like this.
All in all, I can’t say that Rocco has learned a lot. In fact, I can no longer teach him about politics at all now because the Chattanooga County Animal Services Department took him away after some neighbors got concerned about the fur shaving incident. But I hope at least that by the time Election Day rolls around, Rocco goes out and votes. Pending a few county investigations into my qualifications as a pet owner, I look forward to having Rocco back home so I can continue educating him about the importance of civic duty. ♦