A Rare Breed of Love
How a three-legged dog won the hearts of everyone from an angry homeless man to Barack Obama.
America has a love affairs with dogs. I should know. As the director of the White House website during President George W. Bush’s first term, I couldn’t help but notice that, whenever we put first dog Barney on the website, traffic soared.Skip to next paragraph
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(In fact, the highest-trafficked day on the site was Dec. 17, 2003 – the day we released the second annual Barney Christmas video, “Barney II: Barney Reloaded.”)
So with President Obama now in the Oval Office, it isn’t a surprise to me that anytime I write about the Obama family’s search for a pet dog, it becomes one of the most visited stories on the Monitor’s website.
There’s even a dog who has enjoyed a resurgence in media attention as the result of Barack Obama’s election. That’s Baby, the star of A Rare Breed of Love, a book published last summer by Dr. Jana Kohl.
Baby, a small white poodle with only three legs, has a high-powered connection to the president of the United States. In fact, you may have seen a photograph of her in his arms.
So how did this little poodle – a three legged one at that – meet the most powerful man in the world? The story, of course, is in the book.
It all started when Kohl, who describes herself as a “one-time unlikely dog lover,” decided she wanted to buy a poodle. She went to see the dogs at a breeder – only to be horrified at the conditions under which the dogs lived.
So she decided to adopt a shelter dog instead. That’s where she found Baby – a 9-year-old toy poodle who had been imprisoned in a cage in a puppy mill for her entire life. She was useful to her owners only as long as she could produce puppies. No longer able to do this, she was thrown away, literally.
Baby’s leg had to be amputated due to the years of abuse.
What Kohl saw and learned through her experience with Baby has led her to devote her life to protecting dogs and shutting down puppy mills.
Before you dismiss the book as the rantings of an animal activist, know this: Once upon a time, Kohl wore fur and was basically indifferent toward animals. But her one experience at a puppy mill redefined her life.
She set out on the road with Baby, hoping to reach the highest profile people possible. So she took Baby to Capitol Hill and met with both Republicans and Democrats. Sens. Ted Kennedy, John Ensign, Dick Durbin, Maria Cantwell, Rick Santorum, Elizabeth Dole and many, many others met with Baby and Kohl and, as Kohl explains, there were many teary eyes during the meetings.