• This week callers to my radio show were not optimistic about the next four years with President Obama at the helm. Granted, most of the listeners tend to lean conservative. But a term I heard more than once was that America was going to the dogs. I take strong exception to that.

    Tuesday, January 15, my black Labrador Retriever, Jet, died as Janet and I held him in our arms. He would have been 15 years old in April. I wanted to talk about it last week on the show, but, frankly, I was afraid I couldn't get through it without completely losing it.

    We have had three wonderful dogs, but Jet was my inseparable companion from the day I received him as an anniversary gift in 1998. He was my hunting buddy, my fishing companion, and he sat next to me as I wrote virtually every word of the eight of 10 books I've ever written.

    Now, I don't agree with those who say the country is going to the dogs, because, frankly, I wish it were.

    In my world, that would be a good thing. Dogs are faithful.

    Jet was good and kind to everyone, especially children, but if there were 100 people in a room and they were all holding out a steak and I was standing empty handed, he would still come to me first.

    He didn't believe any of the nasty things people wrote about me in newspapers, blogs, or letters to the editor, and he never thought my speeches were too long, or that my jokes were too corny, or that I had made some stupid decision. He got up when I got up. He went to bed when I went to bed, however early; however late. Good dogs are loyal.

    In politics I've found that very few people are really and totally loyal. Dogs are. More often than I'd like to recount in politics and business, I've given people jobs and opportunities, and trusted them, even paid them well only to have them turn on me in betrayal. My dogs have never done that. People I thought were valued friends have talked trash behind my back.

    My dog Jet, well he had my back. Dogs live to please. People can be remarkably selfish and demanding, but give a dog enough food to keep him full, and a few rubs of the head, and he'll ask for little more except just to be there in the event you might need him. Dogs are naturally curious and while they are sometimes curious about things that aren't all that pleasing to humans, their quest for knowing would put most human students to shame. Dogs will sacrifice their own interests to please their master, and there's nothing I ever could have done to make Jet turn on me.

    Our culture has become harsh and coarse, vulgar, and caustic. People take to blogs to say the worst things about others because there is no accountability for the comments made, no matter how totally false and damaging they might be. Good and faithful dogs only bite when they or their masters are threatened.

    So if you want to create an analogy of the degeneration of our culture, please don't say it's going to the dogs. That's an insult to man's best friend. Just say the whole country is starting to act like Congress. Now that is truly disgusting behavior.