Guest Posts
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
Obama’s Dog Dilemma
Does it really matter if he adopts or buys?

Watching President-elect Barack Obama on This Week, I suffered a minor cardiac arrest. When he reported that Sasha and Malia had narrowed their choice for first pup to either a Portuguese Water Dog or a Labradoodle, visions of cranked-up breeding operations swarmed in my head. But before I could say, “pass the defibrillator,” Obama told George Stephanopoulos they’d be watching shelters to find their new best friend. That was a close one.


Now, that I’ve spilled my cards all over the table, I wonder what you think. Does it really matter if he adopts or buys? Is this a tempest in a dog run? What will it mean for the future of Portuguese Water Dogs and/or Labradoodles? Would a true mutt have been the best choice of all?

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com
CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Anonymous | January 13 2009 |

Yes, I think it is important that he keeps true to his word that he is going to adopt a new bestfriend for his children. It sets an example to the US that shelters should be in the forefront of everyones minds and that he is a man of his word. He promised the American public that his pet would come from a shelter. If he had not promised then it wouldn't matter. What message is he tring to convey?

Submitted by Brenda | January 13 2009 |

This is very, very bad for Labradoodles and Portuguese Water Dogs. Now they're on the radar. We'll be seeing them in shelters in a few years. I would have voted for a mutt like Obama.

Submitted by StephenHJ | January 13 2009 |

Regarding "putting them on the radar" - Does it not matter the the Obama family took the time to do the research and determine what type of dog would fit their family best? If honorable breeders, rescue agencies, and shelters use this (as they should) for an advertising point, would not good dogs of all breeds find better homes?

Submitted by Melissa | January 13 2009 |

I don't think it matters. As long as they are responsible choices. He did say he would adopt - so he should follow through, but I don't like how reputable dog fanciers and breeders are being demonized either in favor of shelter-only adoption agendas. I think there can be a happy medium.

You are not very likely to find Portuguese Water dogs in shelters..and a reputable AKC breeder might be the best bet. Or at least working with breeders or a national breed club can help find one that needs re-homing. A lot of dogs that need re-homing end up in foster homes or back with the breeder and not in a shelter.

Submitted by Wendy Hughes-Jelen | January 13 2009 |

We are a silly people, and our nation as a whole spends a lot of time reading silly magazines and imitating "stars", whether they be movie or political. Look at the stir Michelle's dress caused on Nov. 4th. It's a fact what people in the spotlight do is replicated by the "rest of us", whether it is honorable or not that we spend our time and money doing it.

That is why adoption is crucial. I don't think the dog has to come from a shelter, tho, unless he wanted to be really bold and adopt a pit bull and show the rest of the world how to properly train and manage a dog of this breed. My dog, an Italian greyhound, came thru a breed-specific rescue group. I took an online test to find out what was the best breed of dog for my lifestyle and expectations and getting the right type of dog was most important. Then I tried to figure out where to find one. I considered a retired show dog that a breeder was ready to "adopt" out as a pet, before I found the local rescue group. My iggy was an owner turnover - the first owner finally realized she was not home enough to give the dog the attention it needed and finally decided to do the right thing. I am very grateful for that. I have had her for almost 4 years and can't imagine my life without her.

I am sure the Obama family will do the right thing - because it is just who they are.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 13 2009 |

I admire that he would open his home to a pet in need. And we can all agree that keeping your word is a great character trait.

However, it is the general fervor surrounding these types of fluff stories that I find distasteful. For example, who cares if Obama is all about his crackberry? I think everyone should be able to send an email from their pants. It is our collective inclination to bulk up on the fluff-stuff that makes my head want to hit my desk.

I hope he gets a three legged mutt and passes out a million bumper stickers labeled “Obama’s Tripod.” I’d chuckle.

Submitted by Tiffani | January 13 2009 |

Yes, it does matter. With nearly 10,000 animals put to sleep in shelters across this country every day, it does matter. A lot of people are not aware of that fact. The president is the most watched person (probably in the world) right now. This one act could draw the attention that this problem needs to be fixed. I voted for Mr. Obama because I felt he was the more humane candidate. I hope he doesn't let me down.

Submitted by Elizabeth | January 14 2009 |

Yes is does matter. There are to many animal put to sleep in shelters every day. Don't breed or buy while shelter animals die.

Submitted by Jen | January 14 2009 |

We elected the right man for the job, and he'll do the right thing when it comes to getting the pet for the White House.

That's why we elected him. Because he's a good man.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 14 2009 |

Just so long as he's continuing the tradition of a dog in the White House. Imagine if the Obamas were cat people. OMG!

Submitted by Anonymous | January 14 2009 |

Of course it matters. Imagine if the Obamas were cat people. OMG!

Submitted by Jessi | January 19 2009 |

I think that if Obama had chosen to buy a puppy from a breeder, it would have given him a "face" that showed him to want only the best. From the American person's eyes, adopting says "I want the best for this animal". It also says that he doesn't care if the puppy is perfect or not. That opinion can also be reflected on his judgement of the American people.

Submitted by Kim | January 19 2009 |

I think it's wonderful anytime someone adopts an animal...when at all possible, ADOPT! However, when you're dealing with a child like Malia, or any family member for that matter, who has allergies, buying may be the best way to go for this family. That way they can be sure of what they're getting. My sister is VERY allergic to animals, so I bought my maltipoo, Jovi, because of the 'hypoallergenic' factor...I do agree that adopting is best, but I can't apologize for buying! Jovi is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me and my family!

Submitted by Anonymous | January 22 2009 |

that's a sensible answer. Yes, we all want to adopt but, if after searching petfinder.com and shelters, if you cannot find a dog that suits your needs, a reputable breeder is fine. I even wonder about all the puppy mill dogs found in pet stores. My neighbor has a wonderful dog that they "bought" at a store.

It's like a lot of things, in the long run, if every one either adopted a dog from a shelter, or only adopted one from a reputable breeder the dog stores would close for lack of customers!

Submitted by Whitney | January 23 2009 |

I'm just happy they want a four legged critter at the White House. The First Dog coming from a shelter is a great advertisement for shelters but, in the end, it doesn't matter where a dog comes from; it matters what happens after they arrive at your home. I feel confident the Obama family will model kind, compassionate animal care. I bet every shelter in America is looking for a Labradoodle or Portuguese Water Dog right now!

Submitted by Linda | January 26 2009 |

A true mutt wouldn't work, since a member of the family has allergies to dogs. However, since they are the First Family and will travel frequently a smaller dog would be more appropriate and more convenient.
The Bichon Frise is a happy, loving ball of fur. When we got our Bichon-Cocker Spaniel mix "Reggie", he was our first small dog. Previously we had only had Siberian Huskies, Samoyed's, Golden Retrievers, and our pure bred mixed-breed pound puppy "Lizzie" who was approximately 65 pounds.
My husband did not want a "drop kick dog". Probably because a larger dog is more "Manly"? But he said I could bring him home.
However, within a week of bringing "Reggie" home, my husband totally fell in love with "HIS BOY".
Smaller dogs make smaller messes and cause less destruction. The new home will be The White House, after all, with all of the antiques and
Persian carpets.
A puppy is a puppy, no matter with all of the expert training. There will be "accidents", and episodes with shoes, socks and underwear. (I wonder if Obama picks up his dirty laundry and puts it in the hamper?) Perhaps even a chew mark or two on the antique chair legs. Mon Dieu!
The new puppy is for "The Girls", Obama should keep that in mind when choosing a dog.

Submitted by Beth | February 4 2009 |

I'm glad that V.P. Biden has opted for a German Shepherd espically at a time when many dog breeds are discriminated against because of size and breed in particular by insurance companies. In the case of the Presidents choice I have been pulling for the Portuguese Water Dog simply because they are a less known breed and Labradoodles are already popular with those allergic to dogs.
I suppose I root for the underdog.

Submitted by Debbie Beatty-R... | February 4 2009 |

A Mutt. Mutts are the best dogs in the word.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 10 2009 |

Of COURSE it matters! How can you people even THINK about suggesting a breeder when way too many animals die in shelters every DAY because they are unwanted. These dogs feel lonely and abandoned and may never, ever get out of those shelters alive. How could someone even compare the rewards of saving a life that was doomed to die alone versus the lazy practice of creating a life that is being sold for profit? Sure puppies that are bred are cute and they need a home...once they're born. So stop breeding them. It's just ridiculous to create 'superfluous' animals when there are so many being destroyed for no reason.

By adopting, the Obamas would show the country and indeed the world that compassion means more than money. I can't even believe that this is such a debate. It really comes down to people believing that one kind of dog is more important or deserves life more than another. Is that the impression that the Obamas want to make on the world? I don't think so.

Anyone who might be replying to my message, you can save your breath because I'm not likely to check back here for your opinions.

Submitted by Sunny's Mom | February 16 2009 |

From blackpearldogs.com:
US studies (no, we are not that different in Canada) show the following numbers in relation to animal relinquishment at shelters:

Puppy Mills 20 %
Feral (wild) dogs 1 %
Breeders 12 %
Casual breedings 67 %

Yes, let's do stop claiming all the dogs in shelters are the fault of breeders, shall we? In fact, let's try to stop pretending that they are a) the fault of anyone other than their former owner and b) 100% adoptable. I have four dogs right now, two of them pound pooches, and have taken in any number of strays, and have fostered for the local humane bunch a couple of times. But there are dogs in those shelters that are unsalvageable, whether due to their dispositions or diseases -- and even if it's only a few of them per shelter per year, that adds up to a lot of euthanasia, because we have a LOT of shelters. Just throwing a 10,000 or a 100,000 out there cannot capture the whole story. It also doesn't capture the story of the shelters which are importing dogs from other areas or countries in order to meet demand.

Is there some reason we can't leave the president alone to pick out his own dog the way every other president has? Did anyone raise a ruckus that the Bushes weren't setting a good example because they had two purebred Scotties? Sheesh.

Submitted by MccallBrandie29 | July 29 2012 |

One knows that humen's life is high priced, however we require cash for various issues and not every person gets enough money. Thus to get fast personal loans or just commercial loan will be a right solution.

More From The Bark

More in Guest Posts:
Spice's Amazing Transformation
Career Moves
Timmy's Amazing Transformation
Learn How To Train Dogs at ClickerExpo 2015
Defusing Awkward Situations
From the Streets to the Gallery, All Thanks to the Dog
Jedi Surfs
This Dog Loves Guitar!
Play Ball
Hope Needs a Forever Home