Power Players

Congress is Going to the Dogs

Power Players

Spinners and Winners

During the heated presidential campaign, dogs seem to have taken center stage.  Mitt Romney can't seem to live down the controversy over the rooftop ride that his dog Seamus took during a family vacation. And you just never know where the ever-popular Bo Obama is going to pop up.

But as Harry Truman  famously  said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

With Congressional approval ratings currently sitting at historic lows — there are many lawmakers who can relate.

Perhaps that is why so many members of Congress are taking their dogs with them to work these days. Sunlen Miller covers the Senate for ABC News and walks the halls of Congress every day. She decided to take a snout-count and she found about two dozen lawmakers who bring their dogs to work.

In many ways, pooches serve as the perfect Congressional aides. They attend secret meetings, but reveal no details. They slog through hours of dull hearings, falling asleep without raising anyone's eyebrow. They are welcome everywhere in the federal building — except for the dining areas and the legislative floors themselves.

Dogs have been a part of Capitol Hill life for more than 100 years and at the sides of some of its most powerful figures.  Senate Leader Bob Dole took his dog, Leader, with him everywhere.  The late Sen. Robert Byrd's dog, Baby, was more popularly known as 'Trouble.'  All three of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's Portuguese Water Dogs accompanied him to work. The first family's dog, Bo, was a gift from Kennedy and was bred by the same breeders as Kennedy's beloved pets.

Amidst today's partisan Congressional tension, the dogs on Capitol Hill can serve as a negotiating tactic, brought in to help seal the deal.

Sen. Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts explains how his dog, Koda serves his duty: "There have been times when people have a very serious issue and they are ready to rip my head off and I walk in -- you know, with Koda -- and they say 'oh we can't yell at him because Koda will get mad'."

And of course, the business of politics, and dog ownership, can get messy.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin explains he does his own dirty work. "We have an accident or two sometimes so I have to clean it up," he concedes. "No, that's not what interns are for."

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