Presidential candidate and former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg sent out a press release today proudly declaring that he had received endorsements from fashion industry leaders Tim Gunn and Isaac Mizrahi. But the story everyone in my immediate vicinity can't stop talking about is this: does Michael R. Bloomberg know how to pet a dog? Because like his prior attempts to kiss a seal, something about this video below just doesn't seem quite right.
The debate over whether Bloomberg knows how to pet a dog, let alone has ever pet a dog before this moment, has been raging on Twitter ever since. On the one hand, he clearly is trying to be friendly and appears to have nothing but love for the animal; on the other hand, he also looks like someone who recently looked up "how does a human pet a dog?" on WikiHow. "Bloomberg has spent $40000 million on this campaign and not one dollar on learning not to shake a dog's jaw like it's a person's hand," tweeted Jason O. Gilbert.
Here's is a good example of the back-and-forth that I have been subjected to by dog lovers for the last hour.
In response to the question, "does Mike Bloomberg know how to pet a dog?" Bloomberg spokesperson Stu Loeser told Gothamist, "You know that he's playing with the dog, right?" He then directed us toward an ASPCA article about mouthing, nipping and play biting among dogs, noting in particular the line, "When you play with your dog, let him mouth on your hands."
However, there is a marked difference between training your own dog not to bite, and grabbing the snout of someone else's dog who you don't know. I personally wouldn't grab a dog's snout, nor try to shake it like a hand, unless they were basically family (and even then, I might pause to consider whether the dog might prefer an ear scratch first). And "muzzle grabs" are particularly frowned upon. As PetHelpful wrote, dogs' roughhousing is different from humans doing it, and generally reinforces bad and dangerous behavior: "When we apply muzzle grabs to dogs, we teach them that hands are bad and that biting is the best way to keep them away. This is why I often get cases of nipping dogs that don't want hands anywhere near their faces and puppies that never learn to stop biting."
Loeser added, "Well, Mike's never met a dog he didn't like and vice versa."
Bloomberg doesn't have a reputation as much of an animal lover though—back when he was still mayor in 2011, he was given two really cute yellow Labradors named Bonnie & Clyde from his girlfriend Diana Taylor, which the Times reported he merely "tolerated." (Don't even ask about his relationship with that "son of a bitch" Staten Island Chuck.)
So in conclusion: Bloomberg probably has pet a dog before, but only during business meetings. If he wants to learn more about pet etiquette, he can review our video tutorial on approaching other people's dogs here. He should be ready in case he meets Bailey Warren on the campaign trail.
[Update] In response to the outcry yesterday, Bloomberg put up a new ad today in which dogs "voice" their support for Mike. "I like Mike. I lick Mike," a dog named Fez is forced to say. But note: nowhere in the video does any dog defend Bloomberg's snout grabbing. I'm not convinced a dog would really vote for Bloomberg, except maybe in Florida.
As bad as that is, at least it's less cringey than this: