Alert From the Department of Dog Advocacy

For those of you interested in the canine progress at St. Thomas, I have good news and bad news.

First, the good news: I have been upgraded from chief of Canine Complaints to director of the Department of Dog Advocacy.

From the many emails I got about my Dogs on Parade blog for The Scroll last September, I know that this development will be met with five wags out of five tails. Included with the emails were pictures of Amy Schwartz’s Flor and Fred the Yorkie, belonging to Carol Bruess. Very waggy tails. Jeri Rockett’s dog stopped chasing squirrels on the quad long enough to offer congratulations and support.

In this high political season, I have taken my promotion as a very positive sign of the boss’ interest in this issue. With this support, I immediately consulted with Stephen Colbert about the mechanics of forming a super Political Action Committee, USTPets, to further our positions on leash laws, dog pounds and pooper scoopers.

Colbert assured me that money could soon be rolling in from Purina, PetSmart and the Alliance of Veterinary Medicine. I am preparing my media ad campaign. For the centerpiece, I thought of Karen Batdorf’s Gucci poochie. The fashionista pup sports stylish cardigans and beachwear and dances to Tick Tock behind the circulation desk. Who could resist? I planned write-in dog-friendly initiatives for the South Carolina caucuses. I made posters for my window. And you will be glad to know that the USTPets super PAC will not sling mud; our groomers objected.

Now for the bad news – imagine my dismay upon reading general counsel Sara Gross Methner’s column today. To protect our non-profit 501(c)(3) status, I have to forego my political advocacy.

I totally understand this. We cannot jeopardize nonprofit status by engaging in campaigning, even on behalf of dogs. To do so could leave the university with a huge tax liability to cover, and this would not be prudent fiduciary responsibility on our students’ behalf. Still, Veronica Thouin’s fox terrier Chris is going to be so disappointed, and Mark Dienhart’s bulldog Winnie may refuse to slobber on me after I raised her hopes.  We were counting on that super PAC activity.

To make matters worse, South Carolina held its caucuses last month!

And, I have office windows facing the street – I can’t even put a picture of Taffy and Tootsie in my window with a catchy “Bark If You Like Dogs” headline. I wonder if I should try to lobby Steve Laumakis, with his quad-facing office, to take up the cause.

In the meantime, I will write letters to the editor (without using my fancy UST directorship title and new department affiliation), wear paw print buttons with discretion, and maybe see if Bo on Pennsylvania Avenue will come to campus for a yap session.