Joe Biden, time for you to choose a pet

Forget Obama’s dog. The vice president should establish his independence with a ferret or bee hive.

Joe Biden, can you hear me? This is your moment, pal. Animal-wise, I mean.

While pundits and the public are swept up in speculation about what kind of dog the Obama family should bring into the White House, you now have a golden opportunity to make your own pet selection away from the media glare.

It’s a chance to showcase your famous freewheeling approach. The right choice can crystallize your presence in the administration as being distinct from the boss and fascinating to the American people.

Show us something different, Joe. Let Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, have the dog experience. You need to establish your own persona as a pet owner and you can do it by taking ownership of a young:

Emu: Physically impressive and adaptable to a range of environments. Difficult to tell male from female when they’re young, but that just makes them even more interesting. Definitely the perfect conversation-starter when you run out of small talk with Sarkozy or Malaki.

Turtle: Does not require constant attention or affection. May project a subliminal message of reassurance to the commander in chief because it so closely resembles what an effective vice president should be: nonthreatening, predictable, and possessing a really hard shell.

Pig: Sociable, humble, and intelligent. Loves to sleep on your bed, but this can be a problem if weight increases to 300 pounds. Could provide huge symbolic value if brought along to the Senate chamber during budget debates. Symbolism would be magnified if given an evocative name such as Bailout or Earmark.

Bees: A few hives in the backyard would have all Washington buzzing. Swarms of cameras and photographers would appear every time you donned the beekeeper suit and veil, and you could let a couple go in their direction when you didn’t like a question. It would also pay homage to the legacy of previous VPs by combining the environmental commitment of Al Gore with the agrarian sensibilities of Henry Wallace.

Ferret: Loyal to friends but may be feisty and unpredictable when alarmed. Sharp teeth can increase the anxiety level for strangers in the room. But an atmosphere of dynamic tension and pugnacious playfulness might be a perfect mood enhancer next time Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chávez drop in.

Flea Circus: All you need is a little box for them to travel in and a serious, no-nonsense tone when explaining how you trained them to perform a variety of small stunts and tiny tricks. People may be incredulous and say, “This is a joke, right?”

In this case, Joe, all you have to do is smile and shrug. As every good politician knows, sometimes the best answer is the one that keeps everyone guessing.

Jeffrey Shaffer writes humor from Portland, Ore.

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