On January 20, history will be made when a mold-breaking, non-politician is sworn into the office of President of the United States. But for all of his unconventional characteristics, one stands out to anyone who has a heart for the pitter patter of little paws: Donald Trump does not have a pet.
Presidential pets have long captured the imagination of popular culture: from Socks the Cat to Miss Beazley to Bo and Sunny, Americans have always had a non-partisan love for four-footed White House residents.
So what will the upcoming administration look like? According to the Presidential Pet Museum, every single president since Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) has had a dog at the White House. And while the president-elect certainly seems comfortable bucking tradition, I suspect there will soon be a wet nose joining the pack.
The simple fact is, pets make us better. They tap all the best parts of our personalities: patience, humor, humility (as anyone who has cleaned up a mess in the middle of the night can attest), compassion, playfulness, and loyalty. They remind us of the joy of connection and companionship--and no one is a better listening ear.
Besides softening his image and providing fodder for positive news coverage, a dog in Donald Trump's White House could help him in other surprising ways:
Research has shown that it only takes 15-30 minutes with your pet to feel more relaxed and calm. A good snuggle session to boost serotonin before meetings with foreign leaders could help the president be a better diplomat (serotonin helps regulate mood, irritability, impulse and memory).
Studies have shown that having a dog helps people be more social, approachable and outgoing. These qualities could certainly come in handy during press conferences and daily dealings with the White House Press Corps.
Dogs have been found to stabilize and reduce blood pressure and stress levels as well as help their owners be more mindful. When hurricanes, wildfires, terror attacks and other disasters strike, a dog could help the president keep his cool under pressure and figure out how to help.
Dog owners typically have fewer medical problems and lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and fewer heart attacks than non-pet owners. They also get more exercise. Adding a dog to the family could help the president stay in good health.
As he creates plans for Social Security, welfare programs, taxes, public education and the like, spending time with the family dog can increase levels of dopamine in the president-elect's brain. The chemical is responsible for feelings of love, joy, pleasure, reward and motivation--which could stimulate his mind enough to see how great America truly is.
Whether Donald Trump welcomes Patton, a Goldendoodle he's been gifted, into the family remains to be seen, but the benefits of the United States President having a four-legged friend are clear. Hopefully, welcoming a wet nose into the White House will trump anything else on Trump's agenda for the first few days of his administration!