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Once upon a time, in a land about five hours away (by commercial airplane), there lived a Scottish terrier named Barney who lived in a huge regal residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The White House, as it was called, was the center of the greatest kingdom in the entire world — not including its unsecured borders, crumbling education system and economic uncertainty. Barney lived happily and peacefully there for eight years.

This was no small feat considering his owner was the villainous leader George W. Bush, despised by all but 26 percent of his people and known as a fearful warmonger.

But there’s only so far a writer can go with the idea that the Bush administration is a fairytale, and I have reached that point.

So back to the widely known reality that the Bush years have been far from “happily ever after,” we still find Barney, now living out the last 75 days of his time in the White House. But his happiness and his peace have been broken — along with a reporter’s skin.

According to news reports, Barney, the First Dog, attacked reporter Jon Decker while Decker was bending down to pet the dog. The usually charming dog, the star of the Bush family Christmas videos played by every major news station every holiday season, was apparently not in the mood for a reassuring pat on the head two days after he heard about the Democrats’ impending takeover of his turf. Instead, it seems, he was barking mad.

After all, in the face of Barack Obama’s election, a new First Family — and First Dog, to boot — will be moving into the White House.

In his acceptance speech, President-elect Obama told his two daughters, "I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House.”

Oh, the possible symbolism; the tale of two administrations marked by the tale of two dogs! On one side, there is Barney, Bush and an administration distinguished by fear, either by the forecasting of a terrorist attack — or the losing of a digit to a small dog. On the other side, the young Obama puppy will be delivering happiness and hope to some of America’s youth and inspiring unprecedented interest to the general public. The dog that will usher in the White House’s newest residents will be a hypoallergenic furball of love, affection and, of course, hope.

So now the nation is watching for the First Family’s pick. Will Obama send a message to foreign diplomacy by picking a Chinese crested or Italian greyhound? Will he try to reach out to Sarah Palin's estranged supporters by adopting an Alaskan malamute, or will he look to pander to those with concerns over his immigration policies by choosing a border collie?

No matter the breed, the dog is going to be lucky to be living in the White House, where he or she will be an oblivious witness to history. Furthermore, the incoming furry face of our nation will be a star, stirring up a nationwide “aww” from 53 percent of voters that will get the media worked up in a frenzy.

Now, we just have to hope the new First Dog realizes the fundamental differences between himself or herself and Barney, and learns that his or her bark can be no worse than Barney’s bite.

Melissa is amazed she formed an opinion for 600 words about a dog. If you’re amazed too, e-mail her at

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