WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump isn't hiding the fact that he isn't a dog person.
He appeared impressed Monday night while describing the drug-detecting abilities of German shepherds that work for the U.S. Secret Service, but also made it abundantly clear that he can get by in his daily life without the slobbery canine companionship many of his predecessors welcomed.
"I wouldn't mind having one, honestly, but I don't have any time," Trump said at a campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, after he described watching a shepherd sniff out drugs. The crowd cheered its approval after he asked, "How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?"
The president shook his head and said "I don't know ... I don't feel good. Feels a little phony, phony to me" as he motioned disapproval with his hand.
Trump said "a lot of people" have encouraged him to get a dog, saying "it's good politically."
"I said, 'Look, that's not the relationship I have with my people,'" he said.
Trump will break a long tradition of presidential pet ownership if he remains pet-free.
Barack Obama had Portuguese water dogs called Bo and Sunny, and George W. Bush had Scottish Terriers named Barney and Miss Beazley. Bill Clinton had Buddy, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, and a cat named Socks. Presidents well before those three also shared the White House with pets.
Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, has an assortment of pets, including Harley, an Australian shepherd; a rabbit named Marlon Bundo; and a cat, Hazel.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says more than half of U.S. households, or nearly 57 percent, owned a pet at the end of 2016.
Nearly 4 in 10 households, or 38 percent, owned at least one dog, the highest estimated rate of dog ownership since 1982, when the association began measuring ownership.
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This story corrects math error in last paragraph to show that nearly 4 in 10 households, instead of 1 in 4 households.