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Grissom column: School staff increases for good reasons

As a grizzled observer of the nation’s political scene (yes, it was I who typed the infamous 1948 headline “Dewey defeats Truman”), I have learned never to jump at premature conclusions, to avoid following the media pack down false trails, to refrain from barking up the wrong tree. But based on the stunning results that came in last week from certain precincts in the Northeast, it seems inevitable:
Our next president will be a beagle.
How else to interpret the exultation that erupted ó the pumping fists, the baying peals of joy, the chants of “USA! USA!” ó upon the announcement that Uno, an unassuming little beagle, took top honors at the Westminster Kennel Club Show, which is equivalent to being anointed the nation’s canine-in-chief? It was such a stirring moment that, in a show of solidarity with beagles everywhere, I had the immediate urge to get lost in the woods, bark maniacally at a passing car and relieve myself on the mailbox stanchion. But it was a rather nippy night, and if you think it’s painful to have your tongue frozen to a metal post, just imagine other physiological possibilities. So I had to be content with an Oprahesque display in which I jumped onto the couch shouting “I love this dog! I really love this dog!” (Note to Tom Cruise: I understand about the religious objections to psychiatry, dude, but in the interests of furniture safety, you really might want to give the Paxil a try.)
Who cannot help but be heartened by this reversion to Middle American values and what Uno’s stunning victory may signify? For how many years have we wandered in a wilderness of frou-frou Pekingese, pugs and toy terriers? Finally, we have a winner who’s a real dog, not some hyper-bred Frankenschnauzer who resembles the nightmarish spawn that might result if a chia pet mated with the Energizer Bunny. It’s not just the way these creatures look that tells me they’re not real dogs. They don’t do the things that real dogs do. How many times have you seen Westminster’s best-in-show dog celebrate by lustily licking himself and jumping up to sniff the judge’s crotch? Granted, Uno didn’t do this either, but then he’s only 15 inches tall. All he could do was take a few sniffs at the judge’s kneecap.
Actually, watching humble little Uno there amid the topiary poodles and dust-mop Maltese, you had to wonder how he ever ended up in such an event. Here’s my theory. Uno was watching the Grammy’s when he became so distressed by Amy Winehouse’s appearance that he had to go outside to clear his head. He became distracted by a passing garbage truck, wandered several miles off course, scored a moldy bagel from a dark alley and then, after an unfortunate hallucinatory episode that will be the subject of an upcoming segment on “60 Minutes,” Uno finally stumbled into the Westminster show, howling “no, no, no.”
To return to the presidential race: It’s really difficult to say which candidate most resembles a beagle. Obama definitely has the ears, but he’s too tall and thin to be a beagle. He’s the Afghan hound of the bunch.
In terms of overall presentation, Hillary has the short, sturdy legs and squarish body of a beagle. But she doesn’t have a beagle’s cuddly personality or sweet disposition. She’s more of a bichon frise in that regard.
As for McCain, it’s hard to figure out which breed he really represents. I discern nothing beaglish about the man, except perhaps if you squint really hard while looking at the loose skin at his throat and imagine how Uno will look if he lives to be 900 years old. Yes, I can sort of see a resemblance there now.
Uno’s ascendancy may also explain the sad trajectories of candidates who fell behind early in the hunt.
Mike Huckabee? He’s a happy little tail wagger with a beagle’s pleading eyes (“Please send money! Please send votes! Please send a flaming sword to smote John McCain!”), but his refusal to release his teeth from McCain’s ankle suggests he comes from the Chihuahua line.
Rudy Giuliani? Pure Rottweiler.
Mitt Romney? Definitely a neutered Airedale.
John Edwards? Really, now, can you imagine any self-respecting beagle dropping $400 for a grooming fee when a few good tongue licks and a roll in some roadkill are all that’s needed?
Surveying the presidential field, it’s hard to find a candidate with the proper pedigree. Just remember that you, the American people, will be the final arbiter here. Every vote counts. You will determine whether we get a good, honest dog like Uno in the White House or have more of the same old shih tzu.
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Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Salisbury Post.

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