Political Pups: The Office Dogs of Capitol Hill
There is a long history of office dogs on Capitol Hill. In 1800’s, Virginia Congressman, John Randolph, brought his pack of hunting dogs to the House floor regularly. While his colleagues were not amused then, the office dog has become a welcome fixture in modern times. Senator Ted Kennedy famously brought his Portuguese Water dogs to the office to help break the ice with fellow lawmakers. Now hardly a day goes by without seeing a dog roaming the halls of The Hill, providing levity in an otherwise contentious place.
From rescue dogs to purebreds, Democrats to Republicans to Committee staffers, I’ve photographed pups from all sides of the political spectrum. Tilly, a Boston terrier, has charmed Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to the point that he takes her on bipartisan outings and has organized a Senate Halloween dog costume party. Tilly’s long friend list includes Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Major, a Havanese, oversees important meetings for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs from his very own power chair. Senator Deb Fischer’s (R-NE) staff lobbied her to get an office puppy to provide stress-relief and companionship while she works in DC. Fred, a Goldendoodle, joined the group last year and the only thing the staff argues over is who gets to watch him on the weekends when the Senator travels back to her home state. Smokey, a previously neglected Havanese, now helps keep Senator Bernie Sanders'(I-VT) busy staff calm, cool and collected.
Everyone I met was thoughtful, generous with their time and though we may have held opposing views on the issues, we connected through kindness and respect. The Office Dogs on Capitol Hill are doing their part to foster civilized discourse and remind us of our common humanity. Now perhaps, it’s up to all of us to follow their lead.
If you work on Capitol Hill and bring your pup to work or work with a Representative who owns a dog, please contact me.