In the swirling Omarosa/dog controversy, I'm on the side of the dog.

No, not Omarosa, the former Donald Trump bestie, whom he called a "dog" in a tweet. And, no, not Trump (whose square head reminds me of a pug).

As was pointed out by Philip Rucker in the Washington Post, Trump has a history of likening adversaries to dogs, which means he disrespects dogs. That is peculiar,  almost un-American, in a culture that casts canines as "man's best friend" — loyal, loving, helpful.

Ever since dogs threw in with humans an estimated 15,000 years ago,  they have provided companionship, protection, and service. I like the Native American myth that says when a wolf — ears back, tail lowered, tentative and suspicious — edged into a cave and sat with humans, he became a dog.

The dog's first job was to warn the humans of approaching danger. As human needs evolved, so has the service offered by our four-legged friends. They now assist the vision-impaired, walk with the disabled, jump out of aircraft with our troops, dig through rubble at disasters, sniff for drugs and explosives at the airport, and are able to warn humans of an impending epileptic seizure.

Given the affection most Americans have for dogs, what do we make of a president who doesn't have that gene, who can't relate to bonding with another species? If you have never played a game with an animal, knowing the animal knows it's a game and is playing with you, you have missed the amazing experience of connection.

I am suspicious of people who don't like dogs. I wonder what is wrong with them.

Trump is the first president in more than 100 years to not have a dog at the White House. I suspect Barack Obama was not keen on dogs, but he had promised one to his daughters, so they got Bo. And then they got a second dog, Sunny, and then came pictures of Obama running with the dogs. They have a way of ingratiating themselves.

President George W. Bush with his dog Barney
AP
President George W. Bush with his dog Barney

I mentioned a gene a moment ago. I wonder if love of animals is genetic, because it seems to run in families. Both the elder and younger Bush, for instance, were great dog lovers. The Kennedy clan had dogs and horses, among other pets.

Lyndon Johnson loved dogs, as did Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan.

Jimmy Carter? Not sure. Bill Clinton? He got Buddy, but I think he was following Harry S. Truman's advice: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

Are you listening, Donald?

Among dog people, there's a saying: If there's something about you my dog doesn't like, there's probably something about you I won't like.

Because they can and do participate in family activities, dogs are America's most popular pet — and 45 disrespects them?

Stu’s shih tzu Nut Bag in the driver’s seat
Stu Bykofsky
Stu’s shih tzu Nut Bag in the driver’s seat

I am on my fourth dog now, and perhaps my last, given his age and mine. Nut Bag is the smallest dog I've lived with, a  shih tzu mix, cute and ugly at the same time, smart and stubborn. All my dogs have been mutts, all adopted. Instead of  "owner," I've learned to use the word "guardian," because that more accurately explains my role. Proper pet guardians think of themselves as parents. They have empathy and find deep joy in their pet's cuddles and kisses.

Because they bring responsibility, pets require someone whose view of life is larger than his own ego. A narcissist can't be a good guardian — and you know who I mean.

Ivana Trump's poodle didn't like Trump. Maybe the president doesn't have a dog because he fears being growled at in the White House.

And knowing a little about Melania, probably not for the first time.