by Robin Miniter
Next time you’re over at the White House, be sure to introduce yourself to the newest member of the Obama clan with a hand – or paw – shake.
The White House announced this week after months after President Barack Obama’s inaugural promise of a puppy playmate for his two daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, that a 6-month-old Portuguese Water Dog named Bo is finally making himself at home in the Oval Office.
The Washington Post reported that the dog, named after first lady Michelle Obama’s father whose nickname was Diddley, was a gift was Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. The identity of the pup has been long awaited with pictures and reports leaking before his official introduction was staged this past Tuesday.
However, a rumble of disappointment has been festering among pet welfare workers and shelter advocates who feel Obama has broken his promise to adopt, “a mutt like [him].” According to an interview featured in People Magazine, Obama stated that, ” ‘two criteria that have to be reconciled.’ One was that the new dog ‘has to be hypoallergenic’ because of 10-year-old daughter Malia’s allergies. The other, he said, was that, ‘our preference would be to get a shelter dog.’ “ It appears that the first condition has been fulfilled. According to Pet Connection, “Portuguese Water Dogs…have what’s known as a “single” coat. These coats shed less than the more common canine double coat, and so less dander gets deposited in the environment.” However, whatever happened to the pound puppy promise?
Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama, told the Associated Press that the Obamas started off with a shelter search. However, as it is reported on People’s website, “after meeting Bo and feeling that he fit their lifestyle and ‘because this gift came before their pound search sort of was completed, [The Obamas] made a gift to some of the places they were looking.’ ”
“His choosing to go to a breeder is a disappointment. Choosing a shelter dog, that would have been a really powerful message to the American people,” said Steve Gruber, spokesman for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals in New York City.
Christie Donnelly, the president of the Marist College Fox PAW (People for Animal Welfare) group finds it, “disappointing that Obama said he would adopt a shelter dog, but ended up with a pure bred. I recently read something about a newly discovered moss-like plant that was named caloplaca obamae — he’s such a large part of popular culture, science, everything that moss is being named after him.”
That being said, Donnelly thinks, “he could have set an amazing example for the country by supporting animal shelters and adopting. lots of “pure bred” dogs are actually from puppy mills, are often products of doggy incest, and aren’t entirely healthy…Not to mention the millions of dogs that could be adopted and saved from being put down. [In regards to his donation] hopefully he’s planning on donating to no kill shelters, like the North Shore Animal League.”
The Humane Society of the United States president Wayne Pacelle said that even if all didn’t go as promised, shelter dogs still got a bit of national spotlight. People reports that right now about 1.5 million healthy, adoptable dogs are euthanized a year, a situation that could be avoided if just 35 percent to 40 percent of dog-owning families would get their next dog from a shelter.