Goodbye Benjamin F. Kerry, a/k/a @Diplomutt — We Hardly Knew Ye!

Posted: 4:40 pm PT
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In November 2013, Secretary Kerry flew to Maine to pick up his new yellow Labrador puppy, Ben from Frances Plessner of Puddleduck Boarding Kennel who spent two months training the dog. According to the Boston Globe, Ben is named in honor of Ben Franklin, also known as the “Father of the American Foreign Service.” (Also see Secretary Kerry Gets a New Dog, Now a State Dept. Dog is Tweeting, Who Needs the NSA?) Ben, whose Twitter handle says @Diplomutt has 3,131 followers but is not terribly social online. He has only tweeted four six times, and followed only six accounts, all State Department-connected.

Now, he’s off to the beach to watch the sunset. And no goodbye tweets. Sad.

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Secretary Kerry Takes Questions From @StateDept Kids at Take Your Child to Work Day

Posted: 12:32 am PT
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On April 28, 2016, Secretary Kerry took questions from State Department kids who participated in the Take Your Child to Work Day in Foggy Bottom. Ben. F. Franklin was in attendance. Last year, Secretary Kerry also allowed himself to be quizzed (see Foreign Service Kids Grill Secretary Kerry During Take Your Child to Work Day).  Below is an excerpt from the Q&A:

 

QUESTION: Okay. Hi. Once you’re finished being Secretary of State, what are your plans?
SECRETARY KERRY: Honestly, I don’t know yet. I really don’t. I’ve begun to kind of occasionally have a thought cross my mind about it, but I’ve got too much work to do between now and then. We have another nine months, I guess, or so, and I just – and first – and I’m not allowed. I’m not allowed to talk to a company or something like that while I’m Secretary, which is a good rule. So I’ll think about it starting the day I leave. (Laughter.) Okay?
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: What do you suggest? Do you got any ideas? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Not really.

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QUESTION: So what did you, like – what made you think that you wanted to be Secretary of State?
SECRETARY KERRY: Not becoming president of the United States. (Laughter, applause.)
Actually, I’ll tell you the truth. I’m going to tell you the truth: When I was running for president of the United States, I actually said to my staff, “The best job in the government is actually not president, it’s secretary of state.” That’s what I said, and I still – believe it even more now. Thank you.

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QUESTION: On your plane, do they have, like, beds and stuff? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, you’re opening a very, very sore subject. (Laughter.) Because, yes, there is a bed – one bed. You can probably guess who gets it. (Laughter.) The plane – it’s a great plane, and the Air Force does an extraordinary job of flying us around the world. As you know, I have flown now more than a million miles since I’ve been Secretary, and we’ve been to over 81 countries. But I have to tell you it’s an old plane that is – and it’s tough on the staff, because the seats aren’t as modern and don’t go far as back, and you can’t lie down. And so for me, I can actually lie flat, but nobody else on the plane gets to lie flat unless you lie on the ground, bring a futon – and I haven’t seen a lot of people do that on this plane. So hopefully over time we can fix that up a little bit. But there is one bed.

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QUESTION: Hi. I’m Savannah. I’m nine. And I wanted to know who you’re going to vote for president for 2016. (Laughter and applause.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Okay. So I’m going to give you a half answer, okay? I’m not allowed to get into politics, and I don’t get into politics, but it is well-known that I work for President Obama, President Obama is a Democrat, I was elected as a Democrat to the Senate, and I served and I ran for president of the United States as a Democrat. So you can count on the fact I will be voting for the Democrat, okay? (Applause.) Thank you.

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Foreign Service Kids Grill Secretary Kerry During Take Your Child to Work Day

Posted: 12:40  pm EDT
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Secretary Kerry and his dog, Ben F. Kerry attended the Take Your Child to Work Day ceremony at the State Department today. Secretary Kerry said he wanted to  “take a moment to maybe answer any questions that some of you have, which is always very, very dangerous – (laughter) – and could put my entire job at risk.”   So the Foreign Service kids get to ask their parents’ boss a few questions during the Q&A:

  • When do you have time to relax?
  • What do you do as your job?
  • Why do you have to wear suits to work?
  • Is it fun being Secretary of State?
  • When did you get your dog?
  • Is this your first time being Secretary of State?
  • What is your favorite sport?
  • What inspired you to be the Secretary of State, and what age did you decide?
  • How tough was it to become what you are?
  • Do you like to do chores? 

You can add all these questions to an 11-year old’s who apparently asked Secretary Kerry, “Who are you and what do you do?” See video here. Click here for the transcript.
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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Top Diplomatic Pooch of All?

Posted: 00:08 EST
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Several years ago, two Alsatian guard dogs owned by the Russian Embassy in the UK, were reportedly accused of savaging sheep in rural Kent. The dogs claimed diplomatic immunity to stave off farmers who want them destroyed according to the Independent.  In 2013, Australian Bennett Miller used 36 wiener dogs and their volunteer owners to create a replica of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as a performance art installation. See more here. So we had dogs that invoked diplomatic immunity, and dogs that were art muses!

In 2012, the pooches and all U.S. diplomatic pets were at the center of a very public campaign against United Airlines for its pet travel policy. (See here, here and here). That’s probably when the pets moved over to YouTube, FB and the blogs (also see The Pets of the US Foreign Service). A related trend — these days, we’ve got diplomatic pooches with varying degrees of official presence, from an occasional snapshot or two to a more persistent online presence. Here are few high ranking pooches:

 

SkipJack Armbruster, U.S. Embassy Marshall Islands

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Ambassador Thomas Armbruster and SkipJack enjoying their new ride in Majuro (Photo from US Embassy Majuro/FB)

Bernie Mitchell, U.S. Embassy Burma

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A thank you note from Ambassador Mitchell, Min, and Bernie to the people of Myanmar for their warm hospitality in 2014.

Deckard Oreck, U.S. Embassy Finland

Ambassador Bruce Oreck’s dog, Deckard, is named after — you guess it — Rick Deckard, the protagonist of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner to Hollywood). Apologies, we don’t have the text for this interview.

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Deckard Oreck (Photo from US Embassy Finland)

Hapa Berry, U.S. Embassy Australia

 

 Fenway Hackett, U.S. Embassy The Vatican

 

Not all diplomatic pooches are created equal when it comes to their online presence, of course.  We’ve searched for the top dogs on social media and came up with the following:

Colt Wilczynski aka @diplomat_dog

Ambodog of Artur Wilczynski @Arturmaks, Canada’s Ambassador to Norway

“A dog excited to be going on posting to Norway with his two daddies.” Although this labrador retriever has a small number of followers on Twitter as of this writing, he has lots of pics and is marvelously entertaining. How can you not love a pooch who writes, “As a Canadian diplomat, I don’t think I’m supposed to enjoy tonight’s episode of “? Or “I don’t want to get up. It’s too dark! And what does daddy mean- “Get used to it!”?

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Benjamin F. Kerry aka  @DiploMutt

(Secretary John F. Kerry’s best friend in WashDC)

In November 2013, Secretary Kerry flew to Maine to pick up his new yellow Labrador puppy, Ben from Frances Plessner of Puddleduck Boarding Kennel who spent two months training the dog. According to the Boston Globe, Ben is named in honor of Ben Franklin, also known as the “Father of the American Foreign Service.” (Also see Secretary Kerry Gets a New Dog, Now a State Dept. Dog is Tweeting, Who Needs the NSA?) Ben, whose Twitter handle says @Diplomutt has 1,943 followers but is not terribly social online. He has only tweeted four times, and followed only six people, all State Department folks.  He does not appear to entertain request for retweets even for a good cause.

 

 

If you’re looking at @Diplomutt to come to the rescue after a hashtag diplomacy debacle, you’re out of luck.  It looks like Ben F. Kerry is on a very, very short leash with no other larger purpose than being the Secretary of State’s most devoted friend and most reserved sidekick in Washington, D.C.

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Grigsby Lippert aka @GrigsbyBasset

(Ambodog of Mark Lippert @mwlippert, the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea)

This Basset Hound is an upcoming star among diplomatic pooches. Although he only has over 500 followers, @GrigsbyBasset has tweeted over twenty times more than the more popular top dog from Foggy Bottom. He tweets lots of pictures and even made it to the pages of the Wall Street Journal:

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Scruffy Nellie aka @DiplomaticDog
(@GregQuinnFCO FCO High Commissioner designate to Guyana)

Our most favorite pooch among the lot is Scruffy Nellie, a feisty little terrier found on the street of Astana, Kazakhstan by a British diplomatic family. Her manservant is @GregQuinn, now the FCO High Commissioner designate to Guyana.  Nellie has her own blog at Diplomatic Dog, followed by over 4200 subscribers. You may subscribe to follow her blog here and get your “regular sniffs.”  She is on Facebook with regular updates on “hairy pudding adventures and occasional words of scruffy wisdom.” She’s also on Twitter (@DiplomaticDog) with 2,797 followers.

Here she is when she was newly found:

Here she is in February 2014:

 

Scruffy Nellie, herself, is available for interviews. See the one she did here with BlogExpat.com.  By the way, when her manservant gave an interview on behalf of the British Embassy in Astana (@UKinKZ with 2,196 followers),  @DiplomaticDog was there to retweet, and amplify.

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@GregQuinnFCO confirmed to us that Scruffy Nellie is moving with him to Guyana this month and her family have arrived safely in Guyana. We’re looking forward to her Caribbean adventure; maybe she’ll get to see Kaieteur Falls!

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