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Obama Puppy Lobbying Blitz By D.C. Shelters

One of the most burning questions in Washington these days (besides how to get an inaugural ball ticket and where the Obama children will attend school) is: Where will Malia and Sasha get that puppy their father has promised them?

It certainly is the question being asked at area animal shelters.

Puppymania has ignited fierce competition among local pet rescue organizations clamoring to be the go-to adoption center for the next first family. The two most prominent shelters in town, the Washington Humane Society and the Washington Animal Rescue League, have both begun quiet lobbying blitzes to woo the Obamas.

The Washington Humane Society thinks Dave, a toy poodle mix, could be a contender for the Obama puppy search. Dave is considered hypoallergenic.

"The League would be deeply honored to be the source of the nation's next first canine," WARL executive director Gary Weitzman wrote in a letter to President-elect Obama the morning after the election. "We would love to help you add a new member to your family."

WARL actually began its letter-writing campaign to Obama back in July - more than a month before he had formally accepted his party's presidential nomination. "It is our fervent hope that you and your family will soon be moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," Weitzman wrote in the July 17 letter.

He even asked Obama to come in person to the shelter. "We hope that you, too, can find the time to visit the League with your family and choose the perfect dog," he wrote. "All of our resources stand at your service, and we would be deeply honored if you could find a way to agree to this request."

The Washington Humane Society hasn't contacted the Obamas, but the organization recently posted a notice on its blog announcing: "WHS Offers Puppy Kindergarten Classes to First Family Adopters."

The humane society's president and CEO, Lisa LaFontaine, wrote that even if the Obamas don't choose their pet from one of the WHS's two shelters in the District, the organization would still like to do the puppy training. At the White House, of course.

"Perhaps WHS can best be considered as a resource in helping the family, and particularly the girls, with training and socializing their new companion," she wrote.

What about finding a shelter dog that won't exacerbate 10-year-old Malia's allergies?

No problem, says Tara de Nicolas, spokeswoman for the Washington Humane Society. "We currently have a few dogs that might fit the bill, such as poodles and a 4-month-old Wheaton Terrier," she says. (We like Dave, a one-year-old 7 lb. black poodle mix who is described as "gentle with kids.")

As President-elect Obama has articulated, his family needs a hypoallergenic dog because Malia, his oldest daughter, is allergic. He said while their preference is to rescue a puppy from a shelter, "a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me." (Meaning, probably not hypoallergenic.)

Spokesman Jim Monsma at the Washington Animal Rescue League says "you can't put in an order for hypoallergenic" but such shelter dogs do exist. "As of last week we had a number of dogs who we believe were hypoallergenic," he told us.

The Sleuth's non hypoallergenic pup Zola.

The Obamas have said they aren't getting their new dog for at least two more months, until they're settled in the White House. And something tells us, there'll be plenty of hypoallergenic puppies to choose from come late winter in Washington.

Full Disclosure: The Sleuth adopted her puppy, Zola (who - sorry, Malia - is not hypoallergenic), from the Washington Animal Rescue League last year. As you can see in this photo, she was pretty irresistible.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  November 18, 2008; 5:01 PM ET
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Sorry, but the Best offer came from Peru!

A Peruvian Hairless Male Puppy, which is much cuter than you might think, and a favored Pet of Incan Rulers for over three thousand years, has been delivered to the American Embassy there!

Its name-Machu Picchu! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 18, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

People aren't allergic to dogs' hair but their skin (dandruff).

The Pervian Hairless is hypoallergenic but so are other dogs with hair (here's a list of breeds that are usually hypoallergenic:

Posted by: joggle | November 18, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Take this dog, please! While he is not presently at an animal shelter, I will gladly drop him off at one if that will improve his chances. Here's why - see:

Posted by: saturdaymorningpost | November 18, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes Joggle, I am aware that Poodles, and several very Hairy Terriers are hypoallergenic.
However, that is not the Point.
As I said, the Puppy Machu Picchu, is actually Cute, and is as unique as they come!
I think the Obama's would go a long way towards enlightening many in the US about a country that is potentially our BEST Ally in South America!
As a Surfer, who is aware of the OLD relationship between Peruvians, and Surfers of America, I would like nothing more than increased involvement between our Countries!
It, is another reason, I want Bill Richardson as SOS!
Then, for all the People Barny Bit;

There is a chance, Machu Picchu;

is Toothless! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 18, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

If it's not a Poodle, it's just a dog.

I am hoping for a standard poodle with a shaggy Rastafarian doo!

Posted by: cprussin | November 18, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for th scouting report. I linked to you on my blog, The Obama Dog Blog, where I cover all things "First Puppy"...

Posted by: mxaxm | November 19, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Kudos for rescuing a shelter dog. Zola is adorable!

Posted by: Taiyo1937 | November 19, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.
$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$540 billion: Annual U.S. Defense Budget."

Posted by: diana9 | November 19, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.
$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$540 billion: Annual U.S. Defense Budget."

Posted by: diana9 | November 19, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

hypoallergenic. dog that i looked into for myself is a sealiham, which looks like a white scotty. isn't that a hoot . . the white house staff will see it as a bleached scottie

. it's a very nice family kid dog weighs about twenty six pouds and is easy to train.

I didn't get a dog because I might not be able to take care of one and would certainly trip over one of these since I am very old and unsteady on my feet. But if i were to get a dog, since I am allergic now to their dandruff, I thik I would get one of these.

in the past I have had collies but am now allergic to them for some reason. I had to find a home for a shaved collie rescue that i had for a month or so. royboy is a sweetie and was easily placed. so the local collie rescue people who did place him . . .sigh. . .

do look into this lively sturdy not too little white dog.

Posted by: artetal | November 19, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I advocate choosing a breed for it's well established characteristics. In 42 years of marriage and various breeds of dogs I have come to enjoy English Springer Spaniels because they are less excitable than Cocker Spaniels and large enough to endure children.

Posted by: naahbob | November 19, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Bird dogs, with the exception of Golden Retrievers are usually too high strung to be good pets for kids. Actually mutts are usually the healthiest dogs because they get the benefit of a large gene pool and get the weaknesses bred out of them.We had a male tot poodle, beautiful coat, didn't shed , and we had to give him a haircut every 2-3 months. Great with my wife and I but he was not very cuddly with the kids, had little patience for being mauled and regularly broke the skin when the kids tried to hug him and pet him and he wasn't in the mood. He bit anybody besides us four people, the most territorial dog I have ever seen. Like most thoroughbreds,had a gene weakness and died of Cushing's disease, when the adrenal gland goes into high gear and he lost 90% of his hair before he died.

Posted by: majorteddy | November 20, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

What a fun article. I hope that the Obama's follow through and adopt a rescue or shelter pet. Organizations keep your suggestions going to Barack and find them a hypoallergenic pet!!! Or maybe 2 claudiatucsonaz

Posted by: claudiam1 | November 20, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

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