As one Press Gallery journalist said last night on hearing the Rudds were vacating the lodge and leaving the famous Jasper and Abby (cat and dog respectively) behind:
"It's always the pets that get it in the neck."
And so this is how it ends for one of the most famous prime ministerial pets this nation has ever had. After a period of upheaval for the duo over the last week or so, they are now being left behind "with friends" as the Rudd family try to move away from Canberra ghosts.
As Rudd put it in his statement:
"For those who have written to us extensively about Jasper and Abby, they ... temporarily have gone to be with friends here in Canberra" - along with the chooks.
It's important to acknowledge therefore, at this historical moment that these were some of the finest pets to have ever graced the Lodge with their presence — to have ever scratched its furniture, weed on its carpet or drunk from its toilet bowls. And so as Rudd said "Thank You" to the Australian people, packed up the bags and headed to the sunnier and warmer state of Queensland, we, the Australian people, thank Jasper and Abby for their service.
Much has been written about their contribution, not least by Rudd himself who wrote a children's book with Rhys Muldoon: Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle. Wholesome material with barely a mention of any rats or their activities. No, this was simply following the adventures of a dog, a cat, and a party at the Lodge on Australia Day.
Crikey cartoonist, First Dog on the Moon, has also immortalised the furry pair on countless occasions. With Jasper, the cat, the more erratic and corrupt of the pair, most recently pictured defending the Lodge survivalist style with a battery of weapons while the calmer, more rational Abby looks on terrified.
Of course the Lodge's new owner, when or if she eventually moves in, has not yet declared whether there will be any first pets. We have not even confirmed whether Julia Gillard is a dog or a cat person yet - a fundamental question for the Australian voter come election time.
Jasper and Abby have been pioneers, fundamental to the rise in media presence of Australian first pets, and have given their roles a more presidential air. The US presidents have always celebrated their pets and embraced them as important parts of the first family. On a few occasions they have even saved their masters from media peril. I mean who doesn't look more human and amenable whilst cuddling a puppy?
Nixon in his "Checkers speech" famously defended some dubious activities by referring to his dog Checkers, who regardless of what anyone said, was a improper gift he intended to keep. This reference to his dog in fact created an outpouring of public support for the then Republican candidate and even contributed to him getting elected a few months later, clearly demonstrating the power of the first pet.
Obama's dog, Bo, even has its own high-tech blog, not unlike a certain Malcolm Turnbull who personally chronicles the adventures of Mellie, the Turnbulls' three-legged, one eyed wonder pup in his dog blog.
There have been other pets in the Lodge at various stages (apparently Malcolm Fraser had a dog who he left behind with the butler at the end of his tenure). But never has there been a cat and a dog quite like Jasper and Abby. So as the Rudd dawn sets on Canberra, let's just take a moment to think of the smaller elements of this administration we're going to miss.