Author : Grady Hendrix

Tom Rush (D-Massachusetts) squatted and hugged his Labrador-Beagle mix at the perfect angle for the camera to see just how much he loved his dog.

“Mashudu is the luckiest dog in the world and I am so proud to play a part in what has been one of the most successful and widest-reaching relief efforts in the history of this country,” he said.

“Senator, we’re three years into the Freedom Pets program and it’s been an astonishing success. How did you come up with the idea?”

“Well, Mary, I was frustrated by the situation in Africa – I think all Americans were – and while I was in New York one day the papers were talking about a breakthrough in consciousness recording and that same afternoon I saw the Statue of Liberty with its inspiring inscription, ‘Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ And suddenly – eureka!”

“Not many people would make the leap you did.”

Senator Rush threw a ball for Mashudu who raced after it.

“I love that little guy. To me it was natural: Africa needed help but no one wanted some coked-up child soldier from Somalia living in their house, drinking kerosene and stabbing their neighbors. But what if the consciousness, the very essence, of that child could be downloaded into an adorable puppy or a kitten? Americans may not want to adopt a creepy little kid with death in his eyes, but a cute little puppy who holds the consciousness of that individual?” Mashudu trotted back over and dropped the ball at Senator Rush’s feet. “Who could resist?”

“Some critics have questioned the morality of this program.”

“No. I am a strong advocate for morality.”

“But some people would say that it’s wrong to transfer the consciousness of millions of Africans into pets to be adopted by Americans. What reassurances can you give them?”

“Now listen here. I have an unerring sense of right and wrong. And I can assure you that I would not be doing this if it was wrong – whoa! Whoa!”

Mashudu had leapt up and was helplessly humping the reporter’s leg.

“I think he likes you,” laughed Senator Rush as he pulled Mashudu off by his collar. “Go on, chase the ball, boy.” He said, throwing the ball again. Mashudu was off like a shot.

“But couldn’t there be a better way, Senator?”

“Millions of Africans now have a home where they are clean, fed and happy,” Senator Rush said. “And millions of Americans now have pets. Research shows that owning a pet can increase your life expectancy by up to fifteen years. That’s a win-win. It’s not a perfect system, true. A lot of ‘em run out in the street and get hit by cars. I wish that wouldn’t happen. But then again, would you really want to live in a perfect world?”

Mashudu raced back over with the ball.

“Mashudu! Are you happy, boy? Are you happy?”

Mashudu barked excitedly.

“I think that says it all,” the Senator said.

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