What: Celebrity Pet Night on Capitol Hill.
Where: Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room.
When: Wednesday, September 30, 5 to 7.
Attire: Dark suits and businesswear dominated the straight-from-the-office crowd.
Who: The Animal Health Institute invited members of Congress and their staff to socialize and celebrate the positive impact of pets at its annual reception. Headlining the event’s 12th year were four-legged “celebrities” Rocky—the rottweiler that plays Ahnold on HBO’s Entourage—and Raleigh, the Persian feline better known as Sprinkles on NBC’s The Office. Guests mingled and took pictures with the guests of honor, while a few brought their own purse-size dogs along. Congressional members such as Representative Shelley Berkley, who was eager to pose for a picture with Rocky, and Ralph Hall, who gave Raleigh a scratch behind the ears, made the rounds.
Photographs by Chris Leaman
The scene: Rocky and Raleigh and their photo stations anchored the stately reception room, with lines of guests winding along opposite walls as they waited their turns for pictures with the pets. Appetizer tables, two impressively stocked bars, and an ice sculpture of a dog and cat rounded out the decor. Posters featured home photos of congressional members with their furry friends, many of which were sent in as part of AHI’s Cutest Pet on the Hill contest. Pictures of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama and their dogs were also on display.
The menu: An impressive spread of appetizers kept guests (human or not) well fed—Rocky’s handlers could be spotted slipping him cold cuts from the towering meat tray. Treats such as miniature grilled cheese, ham sandwiches, chicken-and-artichoke skewers, pot stickers, chicken tenders, crabcake balls, bacon-wrapped beef, and of course, miniature hot dogs were a hit. Sweet tooths indulged in chocolate-dipped marshmallows, pastries, lemon bars, and dog-and-cat-decorated sugar cookies. At the bar, there were themed drinks including Herding Cats wine and Red Seal Ale.
Cutest congressional-pet photos on display: A shot of Senator John Ensign walking four of his staffers’ dogs at once and Senator Lisa Murkowski and her family with a yellow Lab and six adorable puppies.
Doggie bag: Guests left with a gift bag of two decorated sugar cookies and their commemorative photos with the celebrity pets.
Boldface names: 2 out of 5.
Swankiness: 3 out of 5.
Food and drink: 4.5 out of 5.
Overall exclusivity: 3 out of 5.
Total score: 12.5 out of 20.