Obama discusses the family dog, and much more

November 7, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More

It’s interesting what kind of man we have elected President.   He is so knowledgeable about so many things, even the topic of dog allergies.  And he is so incredibly comfortable talking about race.  Consider this comment from today’s press conference:

We have two criteria that need to be reconciled,” said Obama. “One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic.”

Unfortunately, there is really no such thing as an allergy-free furry animal. They all shed some skin cells. And proteins found in their saliva or urine can also trigger allergic reactions in people.

Still, there is a good selection of low-allergy dogs. Some are short-hair breeds, but not all. And not all are little dogs.

It’s the family’s second criteria that may be the more difficult one to fulfill. Obama said the family would prefer to adopt a puppy from an animal rescue shelter.

“But obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me,” said Obama in a self-deprecating reference to his father from Kenya and mother from Kansas. “So whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household.”

Many years ago, I was a crisis counselor for Suicide Prevention in St. Louis.   The counselors were taught that we needed to be direct about sensitive issues.  Some of the new counselors were hesitant to bring up the topic of suicide, fearing that they might be putting dangerous ideas into the minds of the callers.  We were taught to be direct and bring up that topic.  When someone called the hotline, we had been trained to ask  “Are you thinking about committing suicide?”  By being direct about this sensitive topic, it put the caller at ease, letting him or her know that it was OK to discuss that topic.   We were told, “If you don’t bring it up with confidence, the caller might be hesitant to talk about it and then you won’t have a meaningful conversation.”  Since those days, I have used that rule in many other contexts.  It is a good rule to jump in and talk about the things that matter, even if it makes you a bit uncomfortable at the outset.

I’m so very glad that Obama is comfortable about the issue of “race.”  Perhaps, if he is successful over the next four years, we will all become more comfortable discussing “race.”  Perhaps, then, “race” will take its rightful place among almost irrelevant things, in that it is merely the color of someone’s skin, no more relevant to social discourse than the color of a person’s eyes or hair.


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Category: American Culture, Bigotry, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. I'm a dog lover and am so glad the first family is too. You go Obama ! Your alright in my book.

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