Memo to staff: Very important appointment

To: All staffObama

From: Barack Obama

Subject: Very important appointment

I have made a number of appointments over the last few weeks, but I still have several more to make, including one that’s of utmost importance. I want to make sure we get it right. I want to be able to tell the American public that we spent adequate time evaluating the candidates, checking and double-checking their background, using every tool at our disposal to decide who is the most qualified to serve, for the next four years, as the White House dog.

Americans will be very disappointed if I announce in a few weeks that the dog we selected just didn’t pan out, that it wasn’t right for the White House, that we had to show it the door. My opponents would pounce on this news, accusing me of failing to keep my campaign promise to minimize job losses. And there would undoubtedly be protests outside the White House, not just from the American Canine Liberties Association (ACLU), but also the Federation of Independent Dog Organizations (FIDO).

It would be a huge disappointment, of course, to my daughters, Malia and Sasha. As you know, they’ve been asking for a dog for several years and, over the last year or so, I’ve sort of made it my pet project. I believe that the more methodical we are, the better our chances of selecting the ideal dog, one that will not only bring honor to our family and the White House, but will also represent us well at various dog functions. In a few months, Italy will host the G8 Dog Summit and I don’t want to send just any old mutt there.

I mention all of this to underscore the importance of choosing the right dog. As you know, we have narrowed down the potential candidates to Labradoodles and Portuguese water dogs, taking into consideration Malia’s allergies and the recommendations I’ve received from the Dog Selection Committee and Dog Advisory Board. I’ve also consulted Bill Clinton, who spent eight years in the White House and has keen insight into what it’s like in the doghouse.

Unfortunately, narrowing the selection of a dog to two breeds is like narrowing the selection of a bride to two matrimonial sites. At least that’s what my Indian friends tell me. What it means is that we still have lots of work to do. It’s important that we do a thorough background check on all the remaining dogs and put them through a series of intense interviews. When I say “interviews,” I don’t mean that you should ask them questions and write down the answers. It’s sufficient if you videotape their responses. This should be somewhat like a Senate confirmation hearing, but with less barking.

Here are five criteria I’d like you to focus on:

1. Political affiliation: This is fairly easy to determine. The dog is probably liberal if it: (a) doesn’t chase cats; (b) is willing to share its toys; and (c) barks at a photo of George W. Bush.

2. Friendliness: It’s important to have a friendly dog, but not one that gets too friendly with people’s legs, if you catch my drift. We’ll be having many guests in the White House and some of them may not want to get too acquainted with the dog.

3. Intelligence: The White House dog has to be smarter than the average
dog. It must be smart enough to learn simple commands such as “sit,”
“roll over,” and “fetch Biden.”

4. Alertness: An alert dog is a must. I don’t want anyone in the White House sleeping on the job, at least not until I’ve been re-elected in 2012.

5. Physical shape: It’s a demanding job and the dog’s physical shape is very important. Rectangular and oval are preferable to square and round.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Anonymous says:

    The last part is hilarious, but I think Melvin can do better.

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