When the Obama family announced their new addition, animal groups around the nation braced for Bo-mania. In just three short weeks, Bo already has a book deal and a Beanie Baby on the shelves, catapulting the Portuguese Water Dog from a fishing breed once on the brink of “extinction”  to an international sensation.
Global demand has spiked, resulting in people clamoring for a breed with little to no presence in their own country. A German breeder reports that there are only three or four people whelping Porties in the nation. Since the Obamas introduced Bo, she’s received over 100 calls from people inquiring about dogs .
Pet stores in India have been inundated with requests for the breed , which have to be imported from the United States, Europe or Thailand. Animal activists there are worried about the impact, but remain hopeful that the increase in dog ownership by the wealthy will create awareness for the treatment of homeless dogs as well.
Purebred groups, such as the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America and the American Kennel Club , are trying to educate newly interested people with information on choosing a responsible breeder and fulfilling the energetic Portie’s need for a job. I hope that new owners will take advantage of these resources and become involved in an activity like Rally or Agility.
While I believe it’s a legitimate and personal decision to buy from a responsible breeder (and I fall into this category myself), I have to admit that I was disappointed the Obamas didn’t adopt, given their level of influence. I'm alarmed at the thought of Porties being imported en masse and hope this doesn't further fuel the inevitable puppy mills capitalizing on Bo's popularity.
What’s your take on the First Dog's international influence?
White House photos by Pete Souza.