Congressional reception honors dogs (and lawmakers who help them)
God invented dogs for us, to give us the kind of uncompromising love that human beings need, and we in turn give them the same kind of love," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) at one of the few Washington events that we've ever been able to honestly say sounded like fun to us. (Hoyer spoke of Charlotte, the beloved English springer spaniel who shared his Washington office with him until her death, at age 15, in 2007.)

The Cannon Canine Honors reception, held Tuesday in the House Office Building Caucus Room, honored special dogs as well as members of Congress for their dog-related service. Connie Whitfield, a senior advisor to the Humane Society of the United States and the wife of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), helped organize the reception, which was hosted by the HSUS.

Representatives who helped bring fallen soldiers' dogs home from the front, as well as the U.S. Capitol Police K-9 team, were recognized at the event. Our colleague Johanna Neuman at the Top of the Ticket blog has the details:

For starters, Army Spc. Justin Rollins and his dog Hero were honored along with Marine Cpl. Dustin Lee and his dog Lex. Both had been killed in combat, and their families -- with an assist from Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) -- were able to bring the dogs back to the United States and adopt them.

As Jerome Lee said at the awards ceremony, the 8-year-old bomb-sniffing Lex, a German shepherd, was at Dustin Lee's side March 21, 2007, when the Marine was killed by a rocket propelled grenade. Shrapnel from the explosion buried itself in Lex's back and side, and he nearly lost his tail.

"The family never asked for anything. They gave their son for this country, and the only thing they wanted was the dog he loved and had been his comrade in wartime," Rep. Jones said of the Lee family.

But the event wasn't all somber: It also included the first Congressional Photo Contest, in which staffers from congressional offices submitted photos of their pets. Honorees included Hoover, a bulldog owned by the chief of staff to Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), who was named "Barker of the House"; Lucy, a mixed-breed owned by the press aide to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who won "Senate Pawjority Leader"; and Camembert, a Labrador retriever owned by an aide to Rep. Whitfield, who won the distinguished title "Elder Statesdog." (Check out Top of the Ticket for photos of the winners.)

-- Lindsay Barnett
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