Ted Kennedy lived to talk policy, whether civil rights, No Child Left Behind or health care. But the Senate’s liberal lion also loved to talk about Splash, one of his Portuguese water dogs. So I was sure to slip in a reference to the beloved dog when he called me in early 2005 from his car, en route with then-governor Mitt Romney to convince the Defense Department not to shut down military bases in Massachusetts.
"You know, Splash is here with me right now," Kennedy said. “He’s in the back seat with Romney.”
The image of the impeccably coiffed governor sharing a small space with a gregarious canine was hard to imagine. “Senator, are you telling me you have put a large Portuguese water dog in the back of your SUV with the governor of Massachusetts?” I asked.
"Oh, Sunny’s back there, too," Kennedy said with a chuckle, referring to his other, equally large Portie.
Kennedy was one of the few people who could have gotten away with sticking their state’s governor in the back seat with two very active dogs. But as many lawmakers have found—and as I’ve observed after 28 years covering Congress—bringing the family dog to work does wonders for reducing the emotional temperature of Capitol Hill. The truth is that it’s hard for people to yell when a dog is in the room.