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Dogs and gavels is a thing now

To say Congress loves dogs is an understatement

Deco, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s French bulldog, poses in the Rules Committee room. (Courtesy Jeff Gohringer)
Deco, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s French bulldog, poses in the Rules Committee room. (Courtesy Jeff Gohringer)

Deco tried to take over the chairman’s seat, but he kept sliding off.

That didn’t stop him from owning the room — lounging on the dais, pawing the wooden gavel and basking in the “ooos” and “ahhs” of everyone there.

The 5-month-old French bulldog belongs to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, congresswoman and Instagram power user, which means this was hardly his first time in front of a camera. But there was something dignified about this particular photo shoot. It took place in the House Rules Committee room, where grand agendas and timelines are shaped.

“I got an email today that said ‘Dog Schedule,’” committee communications director Jeff Gohringer told me of how Thursday’s pet project came together.

Deco, Rep. AOC's 5-month old french bulldog poses in the Rules committee room (Jeff Gohringer)
Deco temporarily takes over the chairman’s role. (Courtesy Jeff Gohringer)

The idea was simple: Photograph dogs in the committee room, surrounded by the ceremonial objects of legislating. Forget dogs playing poker. This would be dogs holding gavels.

That’s why a stream of them came through the room this week. Rep. David Joyce’s 5-year-old golden retriever was there, enjoying her second recent moment of fame. (The first came when a reporter spotted her walking through the Capitol complex holding her leash in her mouth.)

Congressional pups Luna, Webster, Sage and Annie also posed, sitting (or trying to sit) in the chairman’s leather swivel seat.

The actual chairman of the House Rules Committee is Rep. Jim McGovern, and it was a pet belonging to one of his staffers who helped to start the “dogs holding gavels” trend last fall. Other staffers started inquiring about photo ops for their fur children, and members like Rep. Rashida Tlaib joined in.

To say Congress loves dogs is an understatement.

“On any given day, I’ve got two or three dogs running loose in my office,” Sen. Thom Tillistold Heard on the Hill in October.

He was hosting a doggy costume parade at the time. The senator started his annual Halloween event a couple years ago, but his canine parties are rowdy and loud, with shark fins and wigs and lots of barking.

Thursday’s petstravaganza was a more distinguished affair. There were no barks — probably because there were plenty of treats.

“We’re ready for Henry now,” Gohringer called out, signaling for the next dog to take the dais. Rep. Dean Phillips’ Norwich terrier was up.

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Photos of the week ending May 24, 2024