Sonny, with a friend.

The shock of discovering that my dog is a Republican

Dogs: you think you know them -- but do you really? In recent weeks, this question has taken on a great deal of importance at my house, which is ruled, to one degree or another, by Sonny, our beloved seven-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, who has recently come out of the kennel -- as a Republican.

We had our suspicions four years ago. Since he was a puppy, he's attacked stuffed toys (the ones we purchased for him, as well as anything our daughters left laying around) with a special vengeance -- and he always goes for the eyes. Maybe he just doesn't like them staring at him. Whatever the case, our gentle, loving, affectionate pooch, who's never bitten any human and resists the temptation to sharpen his teeth on our furniture, has torn the faces off more teddy bears and so on than I can count.

Cut to the fall of 2004, when my wife purchased a stuffed George W. Bush at a pet store and gave it to Sonny, expecting him to eviscerate it in short order. Instead, he pretty much ignored the thing for a few weeks, leading us to wonder if he had a soft spot for Bush the Younger. Then, one day, something snapped, and he shredded W. more thoroughly than he'd destroyed any toy in the past. Apparently those photos of Iraqi voters with purple fingers didn't convince him that the administration's war strategy was really working.

Four years later, my wife bought Sonny a stuffed John McCain toy, expecting that he'd react in the same way. She was wrong. Not only did Sonny refuse to slice and dice McCain's likeness, but he eventually dragged it into his kennel -- the one we've had since his earliest days in our home, which he refuses to let us put in the attic. At nights, he sleeps upstairs with us, but during the daytime, he regularly crawls inside it and cuddles with Big John.

I shouldn't be surprised. Sonny is named after the late Sonny Bono, who became a Republican Congressman from California after his entertainment career ended. We were pretty much locked in to this choice of handles; because we already had a (crazy) cat named Cher, it only seemed natural.

It's good, I suppose, that Sonny is able to distinguish between a GOP politician who few members of either party regard favorably these days and one who even Democrats acknowledge as a hero and a worthy public servant. Still, I can't help but wonder if something might change Sonny's conservative mindset. So, Obama family: Any chance that when you're picking out a puppy for Malia and Sasha, you could choose a Miniature Schnauzer? -- Michael Roberts

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