Barking Blondes: Pets in politics and Westminster Dog of the Year

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

barking1 300x225 Barking Blondes: Pets in politics and Westminster Dog of the YearOn Thursday, Noodle, a cocker spaniel-poodle, belonging to the International Development Minister Alan Duncan took the top award at Westminster Dog of the Year. The final was judged on the lawns outside the House of Commons.

They say if you want a friend in politics get a dog. We wonder if dogs could be seen as vote winners?

Remember the London Mayor election campaign with Ken Livingstone, seen out electioneering with his yellow Labrador Coco? He must have caught the attention of most dog lovers. Boris, on the other hand doesn’t have a dog at the moment, although his sister Rachel does. She is also called Coco and once had her own column in The Lady magazine. They both appeared on our radio show last year promoting dogs in the work place.

During the Eighties we lived in North London’s South End Green. We would often bump into Labour leader Michael Foot walking his dog Dizzy on Hampstead Heath. Dizzy was a chow cross. His full name was Disraeli. The two of them plodded along, deep in thought. As with all dog owners, there was always an acknowledgement to one another when passing. It’s quite democratic, scooping up poop alongside a political leader.

We have put in endless bids for one of the Obamas to join us on our dog radio show to discuss their choice of Portuguese Water Dog, Bo. As yet we have had no luck. But how clever for a newly elected president to make the choice of family dog, one of his first major decisions. The Dogs Trust celebrates Westminster Dog Day every year. It gives all dog-loving MPs a chance to celebrate their mutts on the grass, outside Parliament…It’s also a perfect photo opportunity.

Nixon once referred to a dog he had bought his daughter having called it Checkers. A black and white spaniel. – I – “And that dog we’ll be keeping,” he reiterated . This speech became known as the”Checkers Speech” and won him another term… because people empathised with him getting a dog!

It’s a shame we don’t have a dog in Number 10. Maybe it’s the lack of green space compared to the White House. Even the cat was given short shrift. Churchill lived there on and off with his miniature poodle Rufus. When that dog died he got another called Rufus. And when that died, another called… Rufus. How clever. Must help when suffering with short-term memory loss. This is a breed that doesn’t shed. So no chance of hairs sticking to a visiting pin stripe suit.

Strange that whenever we walk our bulldog Matilda, people comment: “Ah, Churchill”, yet this British of British politicians favoured a French breed. The last dog in residence at Number 10 was Harold Wilson’s dog Paddy. We met him in Huddersfield whilst we were filming an episode of Last Of The Summer Wine. How bizarre was that? He was seated in the bar of The Huddersfield Hotel. This was in the fuggy days when smoking inside was permitted. His pipe in his mouth with his dog by his side Harold and Paddy looked very content.

Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99

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  • marcbletchley

    good morning jo and anna
    you know what ive never really notice politics people with dogs interesting reading as normal.
    anyway its a wet sunday morning i hope matilda and molly are covered up for there daily walks
    woof woof from bletchley towers xx

  • Heathbar

    Dizzy, Michael Foot’s dog, was not a Chow cross. He was a Tibetan Terrier. I know the woman who bred his dog and sold it to him. It’s also simple to google for pictures of Mr. Foot and his dog to see what the dog looks like. Sheesh.

  • 5brian5

    Hi Jo, Anna, Molly & Matilda; Its very hard for me to buy into anything a politician says or does, but in America, all politicians need a jackass, so they can have a pet they can truly identify with. President Obama is the only politician I trust. I believe he is sincere, cares about America, and probably loves his dog as a part of his family. Nixon on the other hand, was scarey in a variety of ways. To me, he looked as fake as it gets on television. I’m sure that no matter what the camera showed, Checkers was less than family, and more of a prop. I know, to me, its far more normal and sincere to see politician playing with a dog, than kissing someones baby. Kissing babies reminds me of Michael DuKakus driving around in his military tank. Thank heavens he lost! He should have had a sheep dog instead. Yesterday I had a chance to hang out with my son and his pit Logan. I love them both. Logan has lost weight and looks good and healthy. It was probably the first time he’s had a dog biscuit in ages, but he’s a good and loving dog, so I can’t hold back on the treats. Great Blog Ladies! Brian (Detroit Area)

  • 5brian5

    Hi Heathbar; I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your question sooner, but I’ve been having problems getting Firefox to load. I finally just re-downloaded it. I put Brian-Detroit, as when I initially started writing in this blog, and e-mailing offshore, I figured it would be easier to relate to than Belleville Michigan. Everything in in this area is more or less connected by business from Ann Arbor to downtown Detroit. I was born in Detroit, and lived there for many years. Windsor Ontario Canada is maybe 45 minutes from here contingent on traffic. Even Windsor radio stations say Windsor / Detroit. I didn’t really think about it much. Also, there is a Bellville Ontario not far from the border. I hope this answers your question. Take Care! Brian

  • actfordiablo

    Edward Kennedy and water! Not the best of associations.

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