It appears that the dog days of summer have arrived early for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his employees as a different breed (er, breeds) walked the halls, drooling, hand licking and shamelessly searching for treats while spreading joy and love to all, just this Friday. Yes, the Interior Department is the first government agency to launch ‘bring your doggy to work day officially,’ and it was butt-wiggling, tail wagging success.
What else could we expect from Zinke, a retired Navy Seal, and all Montana man, who rode a horse to work on his first day? Although the newly adopted initiative (yes, subsequent DD ‘s are on the calendar) stems from the polarization of his workforce, his title of Supreme Animal Advocate for the Trump administration is chiseled in stone.
Several of the policies Zinke has pursued since taking office have rankled some of the more liberal career employees at his agency, including his support for reversing restrictions on oil and gas drilling in national parks and wildlife refuges, as well as a sweeping review of any national monument designated in the past 21 years that’s 100,000 acres or larger. Employees also are anxious about possible budget cuts and what they would mean for their jobs.
Zinke, a veteran, is now in charge of an agency that is actively, and aggressively recruiting veterans, many who have been recipients of canine therapies, and who would benefit from a dog-friendly work environment:
Zinke said dogs can be particularly helpful and important for fellow veterans, which constitute more than 40 percent of Interior’s workforce nationwide.
And if Zinke has his way, and this writer believes he always does, all agencies in the Trump administration will follow his lead, and soon go to the dogs:
“I’m competitive,” Zinke said. “You may have heard the president is very competitive, too. We want to win.”
Zinke was referring to a race to be the first to have dogs in federal offices — a race he has won. President Trump, with no dog or other pet in the White House at the moment, could not compete in the “Doggy Days” sweepstakes. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is considering a similar policy, Zinke said proudly.
C’mon, Mr. President, a White House pooch will generously provide that much needed unconditional love and may lower your blood pressure after a day battling fake news. Perhaps you’d see less bite, and just bark, at pressers. And a dog will come in handy at times when you need a good excuse for abruptly leaving a meeting with Pelosi—even that bogeywoman can’t deny a dog his day. Heck, Obama finally caved and adopted a dog (a built-in excuse to take for a walk when wanting to sneak a smoke or hide from his mother-in-law).
The kinder and gentler days of Trump’s March on Washington surfaced with Zinke’s bold steps to bring happiness, and man’s best friend, to the Department of the Interior:
…His dog policy’s primary goal is to boost morale at the far-flung Interior Department, which comprises the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and six other departments. The agency ranked 11th in employee morale of the 18 largest federal agencies in last year’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey, with just 61 percent of its 70,000 employees saying they were happy in their jobs.
It would be a howl to see those numbers skyrocket. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Zinke is upping the stakes in the agency competition for attracting rising talent and interest among Millennials. He claims to be “ultra-competitive” and has thrown down the gauntlet by challenging other cabinet members to endeavor to wrangle his current status, Best in Show, for three months running, out of his paws.
With the impressive lead Zinke has, there is little doubt he will win this race–we all know that unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes. And as John Madden, who may have stolen the phrase from Teddy Roosevelt, Zinke’s idol, liked to bark over the public-address system at football games, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, you better stay on the porch.”