The New York Times’ story Tuesday about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s “aversion to man’s best friend” ends with a quote from Claire McLean, the founder and director of the Presidential Pet Museum.
“Nobody,” McLean says, “would let on if they didn’t like dogs.”
The presumptiveness of her statement is precisely why so many Americans live in fear of being outed for hating, disliking, or even being indifferent to dogs. In this country, anything less than absolute love and adoration for dogs is considered a sociocultural crime. Consider the reaction to the Times story:
So I sympathize with you, Governor Walker. You’ve been called boring and bland; in fact, you called yourself that. Having a dog, as a majority of U.S. households do, would certainly help your cause on the campaign trail—“a four-legged image softener,” as the Times’ Jason Horowitz put it, to make up for your “gloomy stump speech filled with ‘worry.’”
McLean—whose museum currently lacks a physical location, but is angling for a plot “on the grounds of the Dude Ranch Pet Resort”—claims that having a dog “humanizes” candidates. But Governor Walker, it’s your allergy to dog dander, which I share, that has humanized you in my eyes. I know the superhuman effort required not to look utterly horrified when a stranger shoves a slobbering, horny, four-legged beast into your face. I know what it’s like to wonder, whenever you’re invited to someone’s home, whether they have a dog: How many are there? How large? How hairy? How oblivious about the concept of personal space? I know what it’s like to be caught unaware in an invisible prison of dog dander, to feel that creeping itch in your eyes and a scratch in the back of your throat and finally—if your allergy is like mine—the constriction of your bronchial tubes. I know how uncomfortable and increasingly worrisome it is to labor for every breath.
And yet we are the monsters, society tells us, because we don’t care for one particular animal species among the millions that exist on Earth. No more! Let them demonize you, and rightly so, for gutting Wisconsin’s labor rights and public education funding. But if you can take down your state’s once-powerful unions, surely you can stand up to our nation’s tyrannical dog lovers. They have oppressed us for long enough.