The Truth About Cats & Dogs, à la Washington

There are few families who understand Harry S. Truman's adage that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog better than the politically quarrelsome couple of Mary Matalin and James Carville.

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ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRThere are few families who understand Harry S. Truman's adage that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog better than the politically quarrelsome couple of Mary Matalin and James Carville. But they've taken it to a new level. Not only do they own five dogs and eight cats, but Matalin is now the vice president of the Washington Humane Society. "I don't do any heavy lifting," she purrs, but she does promote projects like using strays to help wounded troops and abused women get back on track.

Matalin, the GOP adviser to both Bushes and Vice President Dick Cheney, preaches the healing powers of animals. And she doesn't have to look further than hubby James, the Clinton adviser. He tells us that following the recent death of his fave Cavalier King Charles spaniel, "I haven't been the same since. I just find it hard to transfer my affections, and I was pretty close to this one." Mary playfully calls them "frou-frou dogs with bows in their hair that just brought out a different part of him." He's getting over it now thanks to one of their two miniature dachshunds. "I like that dog," fesses Carville. "Dogs are like people . . . some dogs you just like better than others." Better still, the "Ragin' Cajun" is moving his family back home to Louisiana, where he can get some, ahem, personality-appropriate pets. "We have a pool," says Matalin, "so twin gators are a must."