As the media and individuals remember and pay tribute to “The Lion of the Senate,” Senator Ted Kennedy much focus is on his dedication to healthcare reform, yet it is important to also remember that he was a true advocate for animals and a dog lover. Though known for spearheading many liberal issues, Kennedy was able to cross the partisan line when it came to issues he believed in. Kennedy connected with conservatives on one issue – his love of animals – particularly his love of his Portuguese Water Dogs – four-legged and free of part affiliation.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the
Of course, while some did not agree with all of the animal issues Kennedy supported, it is hard not to smile when you think of his love and devotion to Sunny and Splash his two Portuguese Water Dogs – that is an issue even the most conservatives are sure to support. If Kennedy was “The Lion of the Senate” than Splash is surely “The Dog of the Senate,” Senator Kennedy noted in an interview with the Boston Globe some of Splash’s many accomplishments including, meeting Elton John, a visit to the Oval Office, and a Presidential Bone – a rawhide given to Splash from President Bush, inscribed with the message, “From Barney to Splash.’ Senator Kennedy confided in the Boston Globe that Splash accompanied him to all of the hearings, where he would sit under the table. It wasn’t just Senate hearings where Splash was present, but press conferences, too. When not being a Legislative Lassie, and faithful companion to Senator Kennedy, Splash could be found at the
Splash was not only Kennedy’s dog, but Kennedy was also faithfully devoted to his canine companion. The Lion of the Senate was so devoted that Splash was the inspiration for Kennedy to pen a children’s book with Splash as its “narrator” or “woofator.” The story, "My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C.," is aimed at elementary-aged children, and gives them an introduction to the political process through the words of Splash. The School Library Journal praised the book by saying, "This canine bundle of friendly, panting fun takes readers on a tour of monuments and then describes a typical day: staff discussion of an education bill, a ride in the underground tram between the Senate and the Capitol, a press conference, a committee meeting, and a floor vote. Children will appreciate Splash's joy at the snacks and time for outdoor catch along the way, as well as the strategic Woof when the committee reaches an impasse on the bill."
As I blogged about in the past, recently Kennedy helped the Obama’s with the acquisition of their Portuguese Water Dog, Bo – and now America can thank the now-departed Lion of the Senate for the friendly, panting, fetching, tuxedo-clad bundle of joy that is the First Dog.
Whether or not you supported Senator Ted Kennedy – like all humans he had his share of faults, and his image was tainted by past indiscretions – he truly loved and cared about animals. He did not just leave behind his human family with his passing, but also his beloved dogs Sunny and Splash, who surely are faced with an incomprehensible amount of grief as they wonder where their master has gone.
Sources: LA Times, Lindsay Barnett