Mr. Trump’s reluctance to take a pet under his wing seems silly when you consider how little work it must involve. Let’s get real; it’s not as if he would have to follow them around with a pooper scooper, or empty that foul-smelling litter box. That is why God invented White House ushers, and there are plenty of them.
By all appearances, Mr. Trump doesn’t like animals. “It’s hard not to notice his lack of commitment to companion animals and nature in general,” comments Alan M. Beck, a professor of animal ecology at Purdue University and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond. “His sons are trophy hunters.”
Professor Beck says that politicians often adopt animals “because people with animals are given more positive attribution. If you have an animal, you are somehow a better person. There are lots of studies on this. But I don’t think the president even seems to care about that.”
Professor Beck supported Hillary Clinton in the last election and isn’t sheepish about baring his fangs. “His not liking dogs doesn’t surprise me, but it’s the least of my concerns. Frankly it doesn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know.”
A White House pet might be good for Mr. Trump, and good for the country as well. A much-cited 1992 study published in the Medical Journal of Australia reported that pet owners had lower blood pressure levels than non-owners.
One can’t help thinking — reports of his “astonishingly excellent” health notwithstanding — that Mr. Trump might do well to unwind a little. Golf can’t cure everything.
In therapeutic literature, animals are often called “social lubricants” because their presence eases potentially awkward interactions. According to the psychiatrist Roy Grinker, Sigmund Freud often had his Chinese chow, Jofi, attend analyses. Sometimes Freud would speak to a patient through her, e.g., “Jofi has decided to give you another chance.”
It’s easy to see how a pet could serve as a badly needed emollient for the notoriously blunt President Trump. In a hypothetical meeting with the North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un, Mr. Trump could let his hypothetical dog Fido — the same name as Abraham Lincoln’s mixed-breed pet — do the talking. “Fido has some serious concerns about your medium-range weaponry,” I hear Mr. Trump saying.
Hope springs eternal. If Mr. Trump’s youngest son, Barron, moves to the White House with his mother, a presidential pet may be in the offing. A Trump fan reportedly offered Barron a mediagenic golden doodle a few months ago, but Mr. Trump begged off, according to the New York Post, citing his peripatetic schedule.
The question arises: What pet suits a Trump most? Some research from a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin suggests that Mr. Trump might be more of a “cat person” (more neurotic) than a dog lover (more extroverted, agreeable). What about ferrets? Weren’t ferrets big in the 1980s, the era now known as Peak Trump I?
Sooner or later, I suspect a pet will take up residence in the Donald Trump White House. If nothing else, he might feel competitive with Russia’s pet-ophilic president, Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Putin is often photographed hugging dogs and even briefly nurtured a Siberian tiger cub, winning plaudits from the World Wildlife Fund.
What is that great line? Once you’ve learned to fake sincerity, the rest is easy. Once Donald Trump learns to pretend to love animals, he can move on to pretending to love the human race.