Jonah Goldberg

My wife and I took our dog to the neurologist the other day. Yes, the neurologist. For a dog.

I'm sure it sounds extravagant, but Cosmo had been having unexplained seizures, so we took him in for an MRI and a spinal tap after a batch of the normal, cheaper tests.

He's a handsome dog, but he's built like an old East German car. When he was barely a year old, he came up lame in his front right leg. The vets had to cut the bone in two, insert a long metal pin and then snap it all back in place. At the time, the surgeon suggested that we might avoid the expense by simply "returning" him to the animal shelter, which in canine terms would be like returning a dissident to North Korea.

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Since then, Coz has had surgeries on both of his back legs and a bunch of other, lesser procedures stemming from the rough-and-tumble of doggy life. We've stopped counting, but I'm sure we've spent more than the trade-in value of several cash-for-clunker Buicks.

But despite all the hassle and expense, we never regret the expenditures.

Now, given the debate in Washington, it's at this point where I might be expected to pivot to some incisive -- or perhaps insipid -- argument about human-versus-animal medical care. After all, I understand why insurers wouldn't cover Cosmo, given his many pre-existing conditions. And while I firmly believe reformers could learn a lot from the world of animal medicine, where timely and effective services are provided without benefit of giant bureaucracies, that's another column.

More interesting to me is the reaction from liberals. As one friend put it: How does a staunch conservative end up taking his dog to the neurologist? Liberal bleeding hearts are supposed to do this sort of thing, not the hardhearted Scrooges of the right. We like war and shooting fur-bearing creatures and cutting budgets for agencies that remove thorns from kittens' paws.

I understand the stereotype, and it surely exists for a reason. But the truth is that ideology has little to do with it. The wonderful thing about dogs -- and yes, cats too, I suppose -- is that they are beyond the reach of ideology. Not only does affection for dogs have no significant correlation to politics, but politics holds no interest whatsoever to dogs.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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