After jaunting off to Cancún with his family Wednesday night, Senator Ted Cruz explained that he was merely escorting his girls on a vacation trip with their friends. In an apparent bid for sympathy, he noted that, like millions of other Texans, “our family lost heat and water.” Cynics immediately cast doubt on this claim, so this afternoon I decided to check out the senator’s power situation for myself. Supplied with Cruz’s address by a knowledgeable friend, I drove the fifteen minutes from my Houston apartment to the uber-rich River Oaks neighborhood where Cruz lives.
From the street, Cruz’s white, Colonial Revival–style mansion looked dark and uninhabited. A neighbor informed me that the block had indeed lost power before finally getting it back late Wednesday night. A glance at the lighted lanterns flanking the doorways of other homes on the block confirmed this. The senator’s story appeared to check out. But then I heard barking and noticed a small, white dog looking out the bottom right pane of glass in the senator’s front door. Had Cruz left his dog behind?
As I approached to knock, a man stepped out of the Suburban parked in Cruz’s driveway. “Is this Senator Cruz’s house?” I asked. He said it was, that Cruz wasn’t home, and identified himself as a security guard. When asked who was taking care of the dog, the guard volunteered that he was. Reassured of the dog’s well-being, I returned to my car. Before leaving, though, I took a photo of the house from my car window, making sure not to include the house address.
A 2014 Facebook post by Cruz, apparently showing a picture of the dog, identifies it as a rescue puppy named, aptly enough, Snowflake (gender unknown). Some on Twitter have questioned whether the dog is in fact a poodle, suggesting alternative breeds such as a Bichon Frise. I couldn’t get close enough to tell, and I’m no canine expert, but “Ted Cruz’s poodle” just sounds funny.
As soon as I posted the photo on Twitter, noting that Cruz “appears to have left behind the family poodle,” all hell broke loose. “Tell me they really didn’t leave that dog home alone,” one person replied. “That pooch deserves better,” grumbled another. People tagged the ASPCA and PETA. Then there were what I have come to call the Poodle Truthers. “Where’s the snow and ice?” “I don’t think this is really @tedcruz house, where’s the snow?” I tried to explain that after two sunny, 40-degree days, the snow and ice had melted, but some continued to insist the photo was fake.
For most, though, especially Texans like me who have suffered through a week without heat or water in freezing overnight weather, the notion of Cruz leaving his dog behind to hit the beach was all too much — especially the thought of the power being out when they left. (The New York Times reported that Cruz’s wife Heidi had complained that the house was “FREEZING” in a group chat to friends and neighbors that proposed leaving the blackout behind for the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún.)
Like far too many of us, I’ve been without power and water for most of the week. I spent one night at the apartment of a friend who still has power, but the rest of the time I’ve been bundled up in multiple layers of clothing, shivering beneath four blankets, leaving the apartment only to charge devices in my car. With only an electric stove, I couldn’t heat up food. I haven’t showered since Sunday. And it could be worse — my parents in Austin still have no power or water, and yesterday one of their pipes burst, flooding the first floor of their house. To watch our junior senator escape to Cancun while the rest of us freeze is the ultimate indignity.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the ages of Cruz’s daughters.