Guest Posts
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
It's A Bo!
Malia and Sasha get their dog...at last.
First Dog Bo.

Well, after all the waiting and the speculation, the Obamas have their dog. A six-month-old Portuguese Water Dog named Bo for Bo Diddley. (Actually, according to reports, he was previously named Charlie, which is also my husband’s name, so I am disappointed to miss the potentially funny headlines.)

A gift from Senator Ted Kennedy, who brings his own Porties to Capitol Hill, Bo’s provenance is not exactly the heartwarming rescue tale for which I had hoped. While the puppy did experience a setback when his original family returned him to the breeder, that's not exactly the example I had in mind. I was hoping the dog in the White House would be a daily reminder of the joys of adopting a homeless pup. The Obamas will make a donation to the District of Columbia Humane Society, but for now a golden opportunity has been missed.

Read more about B'Obama on TheBark.com:

The Dog Seen Around the World: Bo Obama inspires an international surge in PWD requests.

Bo Obama: Adorable puppy, less-than-ideal name.

Training Tips for the First Dog: Advice from professional trainers

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com

Pete Souza/White House

CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Anonymous | April 13 2009 |

Some dogs have all the luck!

Submitted by Anonymous | April 13 2009 |

I agree. I was hoping for a dog for the Obamas that didn't already have the possibility of a home. That would have been what I would have called "a success story."

This is a nice bit of news but definitely a disappointment. ADOPT DON'T SHOP!

Submitted by Carolyn with Ma... | April 13 2009 |

Yes, I too had hoped for a shelter adoption. Hopefully all of his training will be positively based -- that would be a good pro-positive publicity outreach. He sure is a cutie!

Submitted by Anonymous | April 13 2009 |

More on the topic at http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/2009/04/13/D97HP7R80_obama_dog/index.html. We must be running low on conspiracies to suggest the return of the dog was "engineered" to make this look like a rescue!

Submitted by Anonymous | April 13 2009 |

I believe in "adopting," I have two rescue kitties, and I believe in spaying and nutering. But, sometimes people who advocate for shelter animals come off as "anti breedest." Then who's being elitest? Me, i'm just happy these little girls will know the joy of growing up with a riggling, wagging, slurpy puppy!

Submitted by Quincy | April 13 2009 |

Bo is a cutie. I think the girls will be happy. He is not a shelter dog, but all of this "conspiracy" buzz still puts adoption in the spotlight.

Submitted by Anna Dibble | April 13 2009 |

More on Bo and the last true mutt who lived at the White House at http://dibbledog.com/blog

I think too much is being made about how the Obamas didn't adopt a shelter mutt. Most likely, one of the reasons they took awhile to acquire the dog is that they didn't want to disappoint all of us shelter dog fans. But some of the best dogs are those that just seem to 'turn up', and this seems to be the case with Bo. Now for a petition and campaign to encourage the first family to find a shelter dog companion for Bo. All dogs need another canine pack member to play with.

Submitted by Kathy Konetzka-Close | April 14 2009 |

Our relationships with our animal companions are fraught with highly charged emotions that easily become entangled with animal rights, shelter and rescue animals, puppy mills, slaughterhouse procedures and the rights of the individual. I understand and support the shelter movement to reduce unnecessary euthanasia through adoption and education. I don’t support the idea that adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue group makes one morally superior. There are many valid reasons to purchase your new best friend from a professional and ethical breeder, and to suggest that those who do so are “elitist” sounds pretty……well, elitist to me. The purebred rescue group that I contacted when I was ready to adopt would turn down the Obamas because they don’t have a fenced yard, as they did us. It didn’t matter that we own our home on 2 acres in a rural area; nor did it matter that I have many years of veterinary experience, exemplary references, and a partially fenced backyard. Fencing our property completely would be prohibitively expensive and would make it harder for the many wildlife animals to get to the fields that run behind our home. But there was no discussion—I got a nice email from the rescue group stating that while our situation sounded like a wonderful home, they were unwilling to visit or to be flexible in any way. I’m just suggesting that one’s reasons for purchasing a purebred dog are personal and valid and rarely have anything to do with being elitist. That attitude serves no one—not the new pet owner and certainly not the dog rescuer.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 15 2009 |

I have to agree, all this media atention on how the Obama's didn't go to a shelter is a bit ridiculous I've been lucky enough to have dogs my whole life. Some we bought from an ethical caring breeder and some we have adopted either from a shelter or a private owner who could no longer care for her animal. Either way all of these dogs deserved a great home and that is what they got, a caring family who took care of them. I see this whole argument as very futile and just away for people to have another cause to moan and groan about. In some ways I feel like it would be like someone telling me I was wrong for having children with my husband, when there are so many unwanted children in need of adopting. All and all I'm just happy that the Obama girls will know the love of an animal and that Bo will have a wonderful caring family who will take care of him and love him.

Submitted by Julie Hensley | May 11 2009 |

Sorry... NOT ENOUGH is being made of the fact that the Obamas didn't adopt from a shelter or rescue and it has NOTHING to do with anyone being morally superior.
Did you note - there is now an increase in requests for PWD, just like there is an increase in requests for Dals when a new 101 Dalmatians movie is out. It has destroyed that breed. Now it's one of the preferred breeds among puppy mills/farms.
So the issue isn't one of arrogance but rather the reality of the media and it's impact. Everything the Obamas do - from the clothes they wear and the burger joints they sneak out to - is the IN thing. You don't think it would have been appropriate for shelter/rescue dogs to be the 'in' thing? How many 'carefully' bred dogs are likely to be euthanized if they don't find a home? I'll tell you - ZERO. That is the issue, by contrast, the HSUS gets a little donation and we'll still be euthanizing millions of dogs in this country this year. Bo is a doll and I'm sure anyone would be lucky to have him. Unfortunately, the Obamas are no longer the 'nice people' next door. Mr. Obama is the leader of easily the most publicized, media-frenzied nation in the world and his family are now trend-setters. For no cost to him or the taxpayer, they could have - in one step - addressed and had a magnificent impact on a problem that reaches into every arena of modern life in the US. Don't think so? Consider how many taxpayer dollars are spent on shelters, strays, dog bites (insurance and medical), legal issues and others all because there is limited laws or enforcement surrounding irresponsible pet ownership and the resulting unwanted pets.

If the Obamas want to live like private citizens - they need to wait a few years or he shouldn't have run. Considering the care that is taken into every aspect of their presentation to the world (has anyone seen a picture of Michelle from before her husband's bid for the Presidency? Masterful make-over there) this is something that they should be ashamed of.

Oh and by the by - this is written by someone who was instrumental in their campaign in Virginia and single-handedly got an office opened locally and staffed during 2008. So don't think I'm bashing anyone cause I don't 'like' them.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 18 2009 |

The dog was a gift; the Obamas neither purchased or adopted him. It is true that there will be a huge upswing in the desirability of the PWD, (which stinks for me because I've always wanted one), but there will always be some breed that becomes trendy for an inane reason. Lighten up on the Obama family, they accepted a well-meaning gift. And they didn't HAVE to make a donation to the humane society at all. Let them enjoy the new member of their family.

Submitted by AnnG | April 15 2009 |

There is a long, time-honored history of dogs in the White House. My biggest concern in this situation is the Obamas' ability to provide the kind of stimulating, enriched environment that a Portie needs to be happy and healthy. The Portie is a high-energy, highly intelligent working breed. From what I have read, it just doesn't seem like the right breed for novice dog owners. As one newspaper columnist in Baltimore wrote, left to itself, a Portie will seek out activity-- and not necessarily to the owner's liking! And frankly, Mr & Mrs Obama just don't come across as "dog people"-- or even "pet people".

On the other hand, Sen. Ted Kennedy began bringing his first Portie to the Senate Office Bldg right from the start, and Splash Kennedy is beloved by everyone he meets. (Splash is also an author of a children's book explaining "how government works" to young readers). But back in the White House... if there's enough staff to help provide activities-- along with limit setting-- and the kids are involved, things just may work out for Bo. He certainly has the ultimate fenced-in yard!

More From The Bark

More in Guest Posts:
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
Dogs and Lipomas