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Why Pups Push Partisanship Aside on the Hill

‘These little animals here, they don’t care about political parties’

Riggins from Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s office attended the holiday party dressed as an elf. (Screenshot from Roll Call's Facebook Live)
Riggins from Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s office attended the holiday party dressed as an elf. (Screenshot from Roll Call's Facebook Live)

It seems like Sen. Thom Tillis started a trend.

Office dogs have always been part of the culture on Capitol Hill, but the North Carolina Republican raised the bar when he hosted a Halloween party for dogs.

Then Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Ted Deutch and Lamar Smith followed suit and hosted a holiday party for pups Monday.

So look forward to dogs parading, bedecked with hearts, for Valentines Day, a pack of canine leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day,  and four-legged Uncle Sams roaming the halls around the Fourth of July.

While organizing and hosting these events just requires spreading the word and perhaps booking a committee room on the Hill (Tillis held his in the Hart Building foyer), lawmakers say it’s worth the effort to put pups on parade even in the tense political climate.

[Trump, ‘Game of Thrones’ Represented at Tillis’ Halloween Dog Party]

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to get together in a ‘bipawtisan’ manner to celebrate the holidays, and these little animals here, they don’t care about political parties, they just want to be happy and have fun and this place needs a little bit of that,” Curbelo said at the event Monday.

The Florida Republican’s office was represented at the party by Riggins, a two year old Welsh terrier dressed as an elf. He belongs to his communications director, Joanna Rodriguez, who brings him to the office almost every day.

“A lot of energy and he’s feisty,” Curbelo said of Riggins’ contributions to the workplace.

Representing Deutch’s office was Maizey, a six-month-old Bernedoodle.

[Meet the Dogs of the House Part I | Part II]

“I hope she’s in the office more, actually,” the Florida Democrat said.

There are dozens of offices on Capitol Hill with “office dogs” — canines belonging to either the lawmaker or a staffer who hang out in the office.

While bringing your dog to work may have started out of convenience, aided by the fact that the Capitol complex is pet friendly, it has turned into a source of happiness and camaraderie.

[Meet the Dogs of the Senate Part IPart II]

Seven percent of U.S. employers allow pets in the workplace, a 2 percent increase from five years ago, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

The benefits of bringing dogs to work include “improved employee morale, reduced stress, increased co-worker interaction and cooperation as well as tangible health benefits,” a blog post on the group’s website reads.

And pets can help generate a little bipartisanship on the Hill.

“Pets can be a good source of common ground and form a connection between two people who do not know each other well or who have had some kind of conflict,” reads a post on Hppy, a HR and employee engagement site. “Having a pet in the office can help break the ice or create a bond that was not thought possible.”

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