Four-Legged Friends Are Capitol Hill Insiders

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You might not be able to get into secret Capitol Hill meetings with members of Congress, but their furry friends can. In fact, the dogs belonging to some members of Congress would most likely have quite a few insider stories to tell.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill often bring their dogs along to meetings — and many say having a dog in the room can change the whole tenor of their encounters, ABC News reported.

"No doubt that an animal like this tends to calm people," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif. "The real world is that we deal with intense challenges all the time but it's awfully important to keep somewhat in perspective."

There is a long tradition in Washington of dogs tagging along with lawmakers, going back to the 19th century. While canines are not allowed on the floor of the House or Senate, they roam the halls and offices in the Capitol. In fact, the dogs are more than welcomed by the members and their staffs.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D) brings his Bichon Frise to work with him on a regular basis. "We've even gotten to the point when senators, when I'm going to meetings, call up and ask if I can bring Dakota along with me," Conrad told ABC. "So he has become a celebrity up here."

Conrad has a framed photo of Bo Obama, the First Dog, in his office -- addressed, of course, to Dakota. The president himself “signed” for Bo with a hand-drawn paw print.

In a rare moment of bipartisan harmony, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle agree: Seeing a lawmaker clean up after his or her dog really has a humanizing effect.

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