The U.S. government is in a heightened state of security. Our nation is a little more than four months removed from aerial attacks that hit the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and threatened the White House.
So last weekend, when the leader of the free world was face-down on the White House carpet with busted glasses and a mouth full of pretzels who was there to help in his moment of need?
Barney and Spot, the White House dogs.
There were no military attaches, no Secret Service agents, no Marines. Just two dumbfounded dogs -- a Scottish terrier and an English springer spaniel. Had Bush been incapacitated any longer by his brief choking and fainting spell, Barney and Spot might have had to re-enact the heroic scene that Lassie played so well years ago on television.
(What's the matter, girl? Has Georgie fallen into the well again?)
But the president came to with an abrasion on his upper left cheek, was checked out by White House doctors and presumably went back to watching his football game.
The president said he knew he wasn't out for long because the two dogs were in roughly the same positions as before his fall.
"Woke up and there was Barney and Spot showing a lot of concern," Bush told The Associated Press.
Upon reading that quote, one could almost hear dog owners throughout the U.S. collectively cooing: "Aww. How sweet."
It's a novel notion to think that the world's most powerful man is actually able to spend some quality time alone with his dogs, watching a football game.
That's time well spent in my book. Bush properly concluded that there's no better company than a faithful dog for a football game. No one to fight with over the remote. No one to get alarmed if the TV needs to be yelled at during the final two minutes of the game. Plenty of room to stretch out horizontally on the couch (with your shoes on if you want, after all you're the president).
Whether you're George W. Bush or just a regular George, there's something soothing about watching TV with a sleeping dog. Maybe it's the dog owner's contention that as long as old Fido is there, there's one kindred soul who's lazier than he is.
Can't you just picture Spot, the 2-year-old English springer spaniel, trying to nap in front of the TV, while the younger Barney, a jet-black Scottish terrier, nuzzled him in hopes of starting a game of puppy-tag?
Spot and Barney, keep in mind, are big-time canine celebrities. They're featured on the White House Web site and are certainly seen on television more often than the undersecretary of state.
It's reassuring to know that they're real dogs and not just photo opportunity props. Now granted, if one of the dogs had an urgent need to go out and sniff around the White House lawn, Dubya probably didn't have to get out of his easy chair. There are White House aides for that sort of duty.
Still, Spot and Barney are OK in my book. They could have run off and befriended some lower level White House aide when Dubya tumbled, but they stood by their master and continued watching the football game.
Loyalty like that is sometimes hard to find in Washington, D.C.
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