The Humane Society Legislative Fund, which issues an annual report on the voting records of the nation's lawmakers on animal protection issues, gave Kennedy a score of 83 in its most recent "scorecard," noting that he was absent during a vote on one of the issues it used to determine its scores. (Among the issues at stake for the Legislative Fund were the Horse Slaughter Bill, the Downed Animal Enforcement Act and the Farm Bill, the latter being the issue on which Kennedy failed to vote.)
Of course, the animals closest to Kennedy's heart were his own dogs, Sunny and Splash. He noted in an interview with the Boston Globe that Splash had "met Elton John. He was in the Oval Office. He has a dog bone from President Bush. He gave me this rawhide dog bone and wrote on it, 'From Barney to Splash.' I take him to all the hearings; he always sits under the table. He goes to press conferences, to the Cape. He loves to take long trips in the boat. He could sail all day."
More recently, Kennedy even helped to provide the Obamas with their own Portuguese water dog, Bo -- and we all have the now-departed lion of the Senate to thank for the tuxedo-clad, foot-biting bundle of friendly, panting fun now occupying the White House.
Say what you will about Sen. Ted Kennedy -- he certainly had his share of faults -- but the man sure did love animals. We're thinking today not just of the human family he left behind, but also of Sunny and Splash, who we're sure are among those who will grieve the most for their master.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Kennedy with wife Victoria Reggie Kennedy, walking with their dogs in 2008, shortly after Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press