About Bo Obama
Meet the First Dog
Name: Bo Obama
Breed: Portuguese Water Dog
Sex: Male (neutered)
Color: Black with white chest and front paws
Birthday: October 9, 2008
White House Resident Since: April 14, 2009
Rise to fame: Became First Dog after being given to the Obama family as a gift by Senator Ted Kennedy
The Road to the White House
Officially named Amigo’s New Hope, Bo was born in Boyd, Texas, to Portuguese Water Dog parents Penny (aka Amigo’s Phor What Its Worth) and Waston (aka Valkyrie’s Dr. Watson Is Here) on October 9, 2008. Bo’s litter, owned by breeders Art and Martha Stern, was comprised of ten puppies. Bo is not the only dog from his litter to have found his way into a famous politician’s household—his brother Cappy now lives with Senator Ted Kennedy.
Bo was originally purchased from the Sterns by an unidentified family who named him Charlie, but was returned to the breeders after it was determined that Bo could not get along with the family’s other dog. Senator Ted Kennedy later purchased Bo for the Obamas and gave him to the First Family as a gift.
After months of speculation, six-month-old Bo made his White House debut on the South Lawn on April 14, 2009. “He’s a star,” said President Obama. “He’s got star quality.” His daughter Malia called him “perfect,” while other daughter Sasha pointed out that Bo didn’t yet know how to swim.
While the girls were pleased with their new pup, many people, especially those involved in dog rescue, were not. For months, the Obamas had said they were interested in adopting a shelter dog, but they did not end up doing so. Most felt that re-homing a purebred dog from a breeder didn’t count as an adoption and felt let down.
At the same time, even those who were hoping the Obamas would rescue a dog understood why the family would choose a purebred Portuguese Water Dog. Malia is allergic to dogs, and Portuguese Water Dogs have a reputation as being hypoallergenic, even though there is no truly hypoallergenic dog breed. As President Obama once stated, “most shelter dogs are mutts like me,” so the chances of the family finding a purebred hypoallergenic dog in a shelter were slim.
To make up for the fact they did not end up adopting a dog, the Obamas made a donation to the D.C. Humane Society.
How Bo Got His Name
After being called Amigo’s New Hope and Charlie, Bo’s third name is apparently going to stick. Malia and Sasha chose the name because their cousins have a cat named Bo, and Michelle Obama’s father was nicknamed Diddley (as in Bo Diddley).
Love at First Sight
By all accounts, Bo and the First Family got along famously right from the start. While making his debut on the White House Lawn, Bo, who’d been working with noted trainer Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz before coming to the White House, even managed to sit for the cameras when First Lady Michelle Obama asked him to.
Before people could think Bo Obama was the world’s most perfect puppy, Michelle Obama proved that Bo was, in fact, your typical, crazy youngster. During an appearance she said, “I'll tell you a story about Bo last night. It was 10:00 pm, everybody was asleep, and we hear all this barking and jumping around, and the President and I came out and we thought somebody was out there. And it was just Bo. He was playing with his ball. And it was like there was another person in the house. He's kind of crazy. But he's still a puppy, so he likes to play a lot.”
But she wasn’t complaining. A few days later, she spoke about Bo again saying, “I have to say, he is the best puppy in the whole wide world. I love him to death. He is so sweet.”
Then, echoing words spoken by countless parents who added a puppy to their household because their children wanted one, Michelle Obama said, “Even though the kids are supposed to do a lot of the work, I'm still up at 5:15 a.m. taking my dog out. So for everyone who has a child asking for a puppy--you have to want the dog. As I do. I love my Bo.”
White House Photo/ Chuck Kennedy
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