Monocolumn

A daily bulletin of news & opinion

17 March 2014

A little later this week, when you browse through the new issue of Monocle on the newsstand, please take extra special care to consider the contents of pages 59 to 62.

For there you will meet an incomparable cast of cavalier canine characters: a black-haired shiba inu with a penchant for cheese, a veteran golden retriever, a rambunctious labrador, and my favourite: an eager-to-please, oversized standard poodle.

They are a selection of top dogs – the companions and confidantes of a selection of human ambassadors, career diplomats who have come round to the idea that having a dog by your side can open doors and perhaps even ease tensions at the most opportune moments.

There are risks attendant in that strategy of course: trying to prove your canine credentials can end up biting you on the backside. Witness the foundation of the campaign-breaking Dogs Against Romney website that dealt what, in my view, proved to be the terminal blow to Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. It all stemmed from an innocent claim that Mitt had forced his red setter to endure a long trip in a dog cage strapped to the roof of the family car … fully 25 years before.

This rather suggests that you can’t just have a dog around and exploit him for photo opportunities – instead one must ensure that, like Deckard – the aforementioned standard poodle featured on Monocle’s pages – all mutts are signed up to the full range of protocols.

But could such a handover of responsibility prompt our animal friends to turn on their erstwhile masters in some kind of quasi-Planet of the Apes insurrection? Well I for one would welcome our four-legged overlords, safe in the knowledge that they have already proved themselves as political animals, both diplomatically, as Monocle's exemplary feature attests, and of course in the cut and thrust of frontline politics. Don’t believe me? Well a collie called Lucy Lou is a mayor in Kentucky. (Her predecessors, by the way, include a black labrador called Junior Cochran.)

And I don’t know what it is about black labs but another, Bosco Ramos, was mayor of Sunol, California between 1981 and 1994.

Admittedly, labrador candidate Willie Bean Roscoe P Coltrane did fail in his bid to become mayor of New Orleans in 2010. And Saucisse the dachshund only secured a modest 4% of the votes at Marseille's municipal elections in 2001.

Despite these setbacks, however, your correspondent has seen enough to believe we will be safe in the paws and jaws of these inspirational leaders.

But if you need a little more convincing, take a read of the new issue of Monocle. You might find (as should always be the case once you’ve seen the real personality behind a politician’s public image) that you see things a little differently.

Tom Edwards is executive producer for Monocle 24.

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