Everybody talks about the midterms, but there’s another fierce competition under way: the battle over who claims the title “America’s dog.”
Right now, odds are on Percy, the puppy that Fox News personality Dana Perino introduced to viewers this week. Percy is the successor to Jasper, the Hungarian vizsla that Perino and her husband, Peter McMahon, lost unexpectedly in September.
Percy is the same breed as Jasper and Perino’s previous dog, Henry. And the Instagram meme that shows Jasper reaching from heaven to touch Percy can wreck a sensitive heart, as can Perino’s photo of Percy’s small paw on her hand.
In keeping with the Fox News brand, Percy was born in America’s heartland — Hillsboro, Ohio — just a few weeks after Jasper passed away from a fast-spreading cancer. He has big paws to fill. Jasper was a bona fide Fox personality and even the subject of a book: Perino’s “Let Me Tell You About Jasper, How My Best Friend Became America’s Dog.”
Those might be fightin’ words in the White House, where President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, brought their two German shepherds when they arrived in January. The Bidens also lost a dog this year; 13-year-old Champ died in June. That leaves the first family with 3-year-old Major, who has had what’s been called “nipping incidents” and is apparently not fond of the Secret Service.
As NBC reported earlier this year, the agency’s email archives revealed in March that, “At the current rate an Agent or Officer has been bitten every day this week (3/1-3/8) causing damage to attire or bruising/punctures to the skin.” Major has been largely relocated to the Biden home in Delaware, and we can safely assume that he’s no longer a contender to be America’s dog.
In decades past, there was a breed that claimed the title, and it may seem surprising given its frequent bad press today. The pit bull was long considered America’s dog, and its image was even used in advertising campaigns draped in red, white and blue.
“These dogs were so loved that America made them their sign of fearlessness and protection (and in some early ads, neutrality) in many advertisements. A popular ad included the pit bull dressed as an American military symbol with breeds like German Mastiffs and French bulldogs representing other countries,” Kellie Stevens wrote for the website Bark Post.
It should be noted that, not only has the pit bull fallen out of favor in some circles, perhaps unfairly, but so has the red, white and blue. (An advertising campaign for America’s 250th birthday, features a “tweaked and modernized” color scheme to be more inclusive, its developers said.)
But dogs in general are an American obsession; U.S. households have more dogs than children, and a celebrity’s dog can quickly gain its own following. Percy should probably keep a watchful eye on the rising popularity of podcaster Joe Rogan’s golden retriever, Marshall Mae Rogan (“loves all people, despises all squirrels”), who has 759,000 followers on Instagram.
And the race to be America’s dog also has a noncanine contender: a hot-dog restaurant in Chicago that goes by the name — you guessed it — America’s Dog. That’s for all you cat people out there.