Bo brings a dogged optimism to White House

It was the most hotly anticipated appointment of Barack Obama's arrival at the White House. And when it leaked yesterday, the big news beat Iraq, North Korea, Somalian pirates, and even the economy off the nation's front pages: America's new "first pooch" is to be a six-month-old Portugese Water Dog, named Bo.

The curly-haired puppy, who will instantly become the most famous canine since Lassie, owes its exotic name to the President's daughters, Sasha and Malia, who chose it for two reasons: their cousins have a cat named "Bo," and Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed "Diddley."

A Portugese Water Dog does not shed hair, makes the breed suitable for ten-year-old Malia Obama, who suffers from allergies. The final decision to choose one over a Labradoodle, which would also have been acceptable, followed extensive lobbying by Senator Ted Kennedy, a keen fan of the "PWD".

"We couldn't be happier to see the joy that Bo is bringing to Malia and Sasha," said Kennedy, who owns three of Bo's relatives, and is friends with his breeder, in a statement yesterday. "We love our Portuguese water dogs and know that the girls, and their parents, will love theirs, too."

In January, Kennedy had said the breed would be "a perfect fit for the Obama family" since the dogs have "a can-do and hopeful spirit," and were smart, resilient, optimistic, determined and tireless. He is now due to be present at Bo's official handover on Tuesday, said reports.

The identity of America's "first pooch" has been an object of fascination in Washington since November, when Obama announced in his election victory speech that Sasha, seven, and Malia had been promised a puppy.

However the unveiling of Bo was not without controversy. In a surprising move, which cynics said was aimed of securing sympathetic coverage, Obama's press team apparently promised an "exclusive" on the new dog and its name to the Washington Post.

Bo was originally sold to a private owner, who returned it to the breeder, and his transfer to the Obamas will be officially described as a "re-homing," since they are unable to accept a gift. The family will also make a donation to a Washington pet rescue centre in lieu of paying for the animal.

President Obama seemed to embrace the media frenzy the quest for the new First Dog has sparked, saying "Oh man, now that's top secret!" when reporters asked about it.

Meanwhile sources in his administration gave reporters at The Washington Post an expansive briefing about Bo. And so, on Sunday, the newspaper which broke "Watergate" three decades ago was able to scoop the world to "puppygate."

"Bo's a handsome little guy. Well suited for formal occasions at the White House," read its report. "He's got tuxedo-black fur, with a white chest, white paws and a rakish white goatee."

The puppy had been introduced to the Obama family at a secret getting-to-know-you session several weeks ago, the paper revealed, and was deemed as charismatic as his namesake Bo Diddley, the father of rock-and-roll.

"Bo charmed the first family," it noted. "He sat when the girls sat, stood when the girls stood. He made no toileting errors and did not gnaw on the furniture. Bo has, after all, been receiving lessons in good behavior from the Kennedys' dog trainers. These lessons have been taking place at a secret, undisclosed location."

And the dog “already has a keen sense of who's in charge," it added. "When the president walked across the room... Bo followed obediently."

Elsewhere, the Obamas settled another subject of long-running speculation when they used Easter Sunday to attend their first public church service in Washington. The family attended a service at the Episcopal Church of St John, across the road from the White House. The venue is a favourite for Washington's chattering classes, and has been used by many presidents, including George W Bush.

Presidential pets: Animals in the White House

*George Washington had the inaugural White House pets: two staghounds, four coonhounds, a donkey and a horse.

*When one of Theodore Roosevelt’s sons, Archie, got measles, his other son Quentin brought the family pony up in the lift to his bedside. Quentin went against presidential protocol when he borrowed snakes from a pet shop and interrupted a meeting by dropping them on the President’s desk.

*Born during Bush Senior’s presidency, springer spaniel Spotty returned to the White House when Dubya won office – making him the only pet to live through two administrations.

*When the Peruvian government gave President Calvin Coolidge a raccoon, it was intended as a culinary treat. Instead, he named her Rebecca and walked her on a lead.

*Old Whiskers, pet goat of Benjamin Harrison’s son Ben, pulled Harrison’s grandchildren around in a cart. One day the President had to run down Pennsylvania Avenue to catch them.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable