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Dog’s Worst Friend  
Could you care less about Bill Clinton’s state of mind these days? Perhaps, for the sake of his dog, you should reconsider  

    March 5 —  There’s no question that during the past few weeks, Bill Clinton must have given his long-suffering friends several cases of heartburn. But that’s nothing compared to the ulcer he’s giving his supposed best friend.  

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  BUDDY—CLINTON’S FRISKY chocolate Lab—is suffering in silence these days as the former president finds himself isolated and alone in his empty suburban New York house while his daughter finishes her studies in California, his aides scatter to headhunters’ offices nationwide and his Washington-bound wife attends to her duties as Senator (which, these days, seem to consist solely of answering reporters’ questions about her husband’s last days in office).
        Clinton’s desolation is so acute that the New York Times ran a front-page article last week that described a lonely Clinton—“adrift and often isolated” in the haunting words of reporter Adam Nagourney—living a life that’s part Nixon (after he abandoned the White House) and part Howard Hughes (after he abandoned hygiene).
“Dogs respond to the behaviors of their owners, so when the owner is under stress, the dog becomes stressed.”
certified animal behaviorist
       Make no mistake: the pressure of being Bill Clinton is getting to him—Buddy, that is. “Dogs respond to the behaviors of their owners, so when the owner is under stress, the dog becomes stressed,” said Richard Polsky, a certified animal behaviorist in Los Angeles. The stress which Bill can work off with a round of golf or a quiet cigar with an intern, Polsky said, actually eats away at his dog, causing—and I’m quoting here—”an inner conflict” and “psychosomatic disorders such as ulcers or colitis.” Colitis?! Yes, Mr. Clinton, you and your last-minute pardons are giving your faithful dog a severe case of diarrhea.
        We tend to think of dogs as indestructible, that the daily tribulations and stresses of our dog-eat-dog lives will leave them blissfully unsullied. We assume that even though we are visibly troubled by our earthly problems, the dog will always be there for us, energetic and loving, no matter what wrongs we have committed or furniture we have pilfered from a White House sitting room.
       Yeah, well, we’re wrong. Buddy is hurting (worse, even, than when Clinton had him neutered). “Dogs are much quicker to pick up on signs of stress in humans than we are to pick up signs of stress in dogs,” said Suzanne Johnson, another certified animal behaviorist (full disclosure? I don’t really know what “certified animal behaviorist” means). Buddy may not understand what’s going on with the pardons and the Congressional investigations (hey, do rest of us even get it?). But he IS picking up on subtle changes in Bill’s normal routine and the stress his owner is feeling.
        “They’re wired just like humans, so they get anxious and tense, their sleep gets thrown off and their appetites can diminish,” said Linda Goodloe, yet another certified animal behaviorist. Goodloe concurred that such stress can lead to colitis (which, to reiterate, means that Buddy may soon need a pardon of his own for soiling the Chappaqua carpets).
        Basically, Buddy is caught in a Catch-22 of Bill Clinton’s making:
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       The former president will remain stressed as long as he stays in isolation, but he’ll remain in isolation as long as Congressional committees are investigating the pardons (which they will do as long as it will keep Clinton in isolation—and stressed). Rep. Dan Burton may be out for Bill Clinton’s hide, but does he know what he’s doing to this harmless dog?
        Johnson said the best thing for Buddy—forget about the nation for a second!—would be to leave Bill Clinton alone, give Hugh Rodham his $400,000 pardon payday and let Marc Rich live happily ever after (tormented only, perhaps, by the knowledge that he was once married to Denise Rich). “Congress needs to lay off Clinton so that Clinton can relax and devote himself to taking care of Buddy,” she said (perhaps answering my question about what a “certified animal behaviorist” is). “The more Congress investigates, the more they are hurting Buddy.”
        Sounds good to me. I mean, a poor dog’s intestinal tract is at stake here!

Gersh Kuntzman is also a columnist for The New York Post and the author of “HAIR! Mankind’s Historic Quest to End Baldness” (Random House, March 2001). His e-mail address is

       © 2002 Newsweek, Inc.
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