Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

This was supposed to be a picture of President Barack Obama delivering remarks on the Affordable Care Act’s Medical Loss Ratio Refunds, in the East Room of the White House, July 18, 2013. But it became, instead, a picture of a blind lady having a private exchange with her seeing eye dog. And not just ant dog – a Labrador Retriever.

We live in an apartment, and so I wouldn’t dream of keeping a pet dog here—we settled for two lovely cats instead. But if things were different, oh, man, I would so go get me a lab. There is nothing in the world as beautiful and sweet as a lab. They are the most popular breed in Israel, they are the friendliest dogs bar none—92.3% of Labradors who were tested passed the American Temperament Test—and they’re responsible and ethical, I kid you not—60–70% of all guide dogs in Canada are Labradors.

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There’s a kind of silent exchange going on between the dog in the picture and her owner, who is, presumably, blind (Is that still an ok word to use? Should I have written sight challenged instead? One never knows these days). Is the dog being critical of the president’s speech in the background? Was she putting down the White House dog? I so would have dug it if she gave out a yelp in the middle of the speech… I know I would have…

One Shabbat afternoon I was leaving the Stanton Street Shul and there was a lady outside walking her puppy lab, all gushy and happy (the puppy, not the lady), with its huge puppy paws that you know are going to become the paws of a really big dog. I was struck by the notion that what I was seeing was the quality of doghood in the universe. That when God decided to make a world, this is what He had in mind when He thought “Dog.”

Labrador puppies represent the quality of doghood in the universe.

 

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