Pets help their humans put life in perspective


oreo-and-dashMy household consists of two adults, two teenagers and three cats.

The cats live in the most comfort, sleeping whenever and pretty much wherever they want, almost never finding their food and water bowls empty and expecting their litter boxes to be cleaned regularly by the men of the house. Jacob draws the duty daily and I dump out the used litter on the weekends and replace it with new. Each cat has two litter boxes, so you can do the math.

If you’re a dog person, which I have been for much of my life, the responsibilities are similar. Unless you live in the country, someone needs to walk the dog regularly. And that means picking up after him once he has done his business in the neighbor’s yard — if you want to get along with the neighbor, that is.

There’s an every-man sort of sensibility about picking up after your pup or cleaning up after a cat. It helps put a guy in his place. It’s a good chore. A job that needs to be done. An appeal to the way I was raised on that old farm in Southern Iowa. The same is true of shoveling snow, the chore I was toiling at the other day when I started thinking about all of this.

Maybe you can see where I’m headed here.

According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump stands to be the first president of the United States in the past 150 years who doesn’t have a pet. I wonder if he ever did. He grew up the son of wealthy parents and attended private schools, including the military academy where he lived as a high school student and the University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League school.

I’m sure you’ve seen photos of the president-elect’s gilded penthouse in New York . A guy who lives like that isn’t likely to have cats.  Or dogs, for that matter. And if he does, someone else cares for them.

The same is true of shoveling snow. I’d bet whatever Trump’s net worth actually is that he has never shoveled snow from the sidewalks at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Or changed the oil in his car. Or hoed a garden. Or cut down a Christmas tree with his children.

It’s difficult for me to trust or respect someone who doesn’t do those things — or has perhaps never done them.

Unfortunately, he will have plenty of elitist company in Washington, a place where many of our public servants, Democrat and Republican alike, often somehow leave as millionaires. According the Center for Responsive Politics, the median net worth of a member of Congress was $1,029,505 in 2013 — a 2.5 percent increase from 2012 — compared with an average American household’s median net worth of $56,355. Once again, the majority of members of Congress are millionaires — 271 of the 533 members currently in office, or 50.8 percent.

I’m not likely to ever fully understand how enough of those Americans in the middle could believe that Trump really relates to how they live or that he is likely to make things better for them. But as far as I’m concerned, the same is true of just about everyone in Congress. I don’t expect any of them to do much that will help the two adults, two teenagers and three cats in my household.

But I find solace in something comedian Jon Stewart told an audience last week in New York: “The only thing I would tell everybody to hearten is we’re still the same country. Obama didn’t change and fix everything and Trump can’t ruin everything.”

My guess is Stewart is right. At least I hope he is.






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