As the Tail Wags: Obama Family's PWD Puppy at White House

BlogHer Original Post

At long last comes the Obama puppy! He's 6 months old and his name is Bo. The name may pose a problem for some bloggers and some Obama opponents who insist on calling President Barack Obama "Bo," but isn't the little doggie cute? And yet, Houston, we have a problem.

obama puppy bo
Previously I reported, along with others, that the Obama family had decided on a Portuguese Water Dog, and Bo is of that breed. President Barack Obama promised his daughters, Sasha and Malia, a puppy after he won the election in November, but it took some time to select one because FLOTUS Michelle Obama wanted the girls to adjust to life in the White House first. Also, Malia has asthma, and so the family needed a hypoallergenic dog.

Today news sources report that the puppy is at the White House, living with the Obamas. Earlier TMZ said the pooch would arrive Tuesday.

So, Jay Leno, who asked the President in March what was taking so long with getting the puppy, can rest easy now with many other Americans who have been asking, "Where's the puppy?"

But wait! There's More.

What does little Obama puppy Bo have in common with pop, rock and funk star Prince? Answer: "Controversy." Also, perhaps about now Obama is remembering Prince's song, "The Pope," in which the music legend says "You can be the president. I'd rather be the pope." I'm recalling that the Europeans think we Americans are so silly, expecting our presidents to be gods, incapable of human error such as telling folks they'll get a dog from the pound before they find out if they can get a dog from the pound.

Some wonderfully passionate people who've dedicated time and energy to rescuing animals declare that they are outraged that the Obama family chose a dog from a breeder and not a shelter as they say Obama promised. I remember when the president said those ill-fated words, and I've been hearing since this morning about people who are angry that Obama "broke his promise." One person went as far as saying she's sorry she worked on Obama's campaign.

My position on this topic is that President Obama is a father and a politician who spoke before checking with his wife and dog experts about whether it was possible to get a hypoallergenic puppy (keyword "puppy" not "dog") from a rescue shelter. In fact, he corrected himself on the subject mere days after he won the election.

He had to answer a question about Malia and Sasha's puppy. He'd like to get one from the pound or shelter but "A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me," he said. Obama realizes the family may not be able to save a pound puppy since Malia has asthma, and so they need a hypoallergenic dog. (@WSATA on Obama's first president-elect press conference, November 2008)

Yeah, you remember the "mutts like me" statement, right? It was all over the news. Controversy again. And in that same press conference, I think, Obama also put his foot in his mouth making a bad joke about former first lady Nancy Reagan holding seances in the White House. Consequently, I think the people crying that "he made a promise" about the puppy and broke it are ill-informed and similar to my son at age 8, squealing, "But daddy, you promised!"

Nevertheless, I say, "Mr. President, dude! When are you going to get behind everything the American public requires of you, politically correct dog choices included?"

Honestly, I don't think this was POTUS decision but a FLOTUS decision. I think the only thing the president had to do with this decision was put his foot down on not wanting what he calls a "girly dog." That's right, no yippy-yappy purse dog in his White House.

Still, people are more up in arms about this breeder dog choice than they were about Michelle Obama's arms exposed.

A Little Less Flip on this Flap

My parents always adopted our dogs from shelters, and I did the same when we decided to get a dog when my son was 10. Like Malia, he has asthma, but I didn't know he had a dog dander allergy until it was too late. We had a dog and he didn't want to get rid of it. But if I had known and we had decided to get a dog from a breeder, we would have ended up with no dog at all. We couldn't afford a hypoallergenic purebred dog, and we wanted a puppy not a full-grown dog.

To the Obama's credit, their 6-month-old pooch Bo is a puppy that someone returned to breeders, according to Us Magazine, where it's also reported that Sen. Ted Kennedy helped the Obamas get the dog. I suppose that was a reasonable compromise, and I also suppose that the Obamas are learning quickly that you can't please all of the people all of the time, but that doesn't stop them from trying.

Christine Lepisto at chronicles the political intrigue behind Bo's natural selection in "A Green Puppy in Obama White House." Given Bo's history, he's being called a "recycled" dog.

In addition, you can hear passion straight from an animal activist's mouth through an news release that decries the Obama's decision.

"This is truly a missed opportunity to set a pet-adoption trend among Americans," said Abbie Moore, executive director of "If Obama had adopted a pet from a shelter, it could have been the turning point for the pet-overpopulation problem in this country. With pet relinquishment up 20 to 30 percent due to the poor economy, pets in shelters can use all the help they can get."

Many Americans share this sentiment. "We are hearing from people all over the country that they feel let down by the President's change of heart," said Moore, "which is why we're launching a new 'Social Petworking' campaign in the coming days to encourage Americans to adopt. To all those people out there who feel like hope has been dashed for millions of pets in shelters, we say there is something you can do. Go to, find an adoptable pet in your area, and send the link out to your friends or use the sharing tools to post that pet's information on your Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter feed. Spread the word. We can keep hope alive." (Read full release)

Joining the protest, Debbie Eades, author of Every Rescued Dog Has a Tale, felt strongly enough about the Obama's decision that she sent out her own national press release.

She's got lots of company for her strong feelings. A scan of comments at the Baltimore Sun and TMZ reveals people all over the country wish the Obamas had chosen a shelter dog, just like the people claim.

In addition, it's been suggested that the Obamas could have gotten the hypoallergenic puppy from a Portuguese Water Dog rescue group such as the one at PWDCA. However, it doesn't sound like PWD puppies are that easy to come by, which, as one BlogHer CE suggested to me, may be why the Obamas have a 6-month-old pup and not an 8-week-old pup.

Politico reports that the first family will donate money to the D.C. Humane Society to mollify the masses about not getting a shelter dog.

And now to give this puppy tale the perspective it desperately needs, here's a link to "Puppies and Pirates" from EmptyWheel at

Blogger Notes: Photo--The Bo photo comes from the official White House blog. Video--Despite the AP cracking down on bloggers for even quoting its stories and asking one of its own affiliates to not use AP videos, I think it's safe to use AP video here. It is embeddable from YouTube, and since it remains available, I guess its honchos are still debating having a YouTube channel. (Read about the AP flap here.)

This post evolved from an earlier post at my personal blog. Thank you Elisa, Laurie, Liz, Maria, Deb, and Kim for sharing your opinions on this topic.

Nordette Adams is a BlogHer CE who is also the New Orleans Literature Examiner at Her personal blogs are WSATA and UMBOP.


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