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Help Choose the Obamas Pooch

As you may have heard, the Obamas have narrowed their dog search. First lady Michelle Obama tells People magazine the new first pooch could be a rescue Portuguese Water Dog, and not necessarily a puppy.

"Temperamentally they're supposed to be pretty good," she says. (That information came, no doubt, from Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has two Portuguese Water Dogs and has lobbied the Obamas to get one.) "And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them. So that's where we're leaning."

But one White House aide tells the Sleuth the process of either adopting or buying a dog hasn't really begun. So for you Poodle and Labradoodle lovers out there - President Obama has mentioned both hypoallergenic breeds would be OK for daughter Malia's allergies - there may still be time to sway the first family (as long as you're not a registered lobbyist, of course).

"No dog has been selected," says spokeswoman Semonti Mustaphi. "The Obamas may have their favorite breeds but they won't have a decision made until the Spring."

So, we ask you, dog lovers: what kind of pooch would you like to see traipsing across the South Lawn?

By Mary Ann Akers  |  February 25, 2009; 4:01 PM ET
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What exactly is the hold up? Obama has gotten light years of mileage out of the whole notion of rescuing a dog -- but it's been four months now, and he hasn't rescued a single dog. My husband and I have rescued quite a few dogs, a cat, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, all manner of animals over the years, and so we know that it's really not that complicated. (And we don't even have the Secret Service to walk ours for the rest of our lives, or a guaranteed 6-figure income for the next four years, with almost no chance of being laid-off.) Allergies? Surely he must have been aware of that BEFORE he exploited this whole notion.

I'm not among those who worships this man or sees him as our saviour -- but I am trying to have an open mind about him. But if after months he still can't pick out one dog and change its life, then that makes me think that our faith in him is misplaced. If he can't even rescue a dog in a timely fashion, then maybe we're silly to expect much out of him for ourselves.

He's getting a lot of mileage out of this dog thing -- shamelessly. I hope this isn't a sign that he's just a showman -- someone who gives us a circus when what we really need is bread.

Posted by: CynicalC | February 26, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Take it EASY CynicalC,
there ARE MORE THINGS than choosing a dog!
I happen to love the ones I have had and still have and I live in the warm climes of Jamaica..
they are called "Jamaican" by me and family members otherwise known here as"mongrels"...but at the same time , I recognize there really are a few more priorities,.... nuh??

and it is not he who is playing this "y'all please help choose the dog" game...'.
it it is developed by the media.. for all those who want to engage" ..

The family just moved in on Jan 22 roughly 1 month ago..
and having help or not " having a dog (or menagerie } there is a a responsibility that comes with it. I can bet that is what the 2 Obama girls will have to demonstrate with a dog.
give them time..

ahhh Let it be..

Posted by: joyjj | February 26, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Actually, President Obama was clear from the beginning that his daughters had allergies and that it would be an issue in selecting a dog. He and Michelle also made it clear that they would get a dog after they got settled in at the White House and in their new positions, so they'd have time to give the dog the love and attention from them that it will deserve. Personally, I think that shows responsibility...something I'd like to see from more pet owners. Then we would have many fewer dogs needing to be rescued.

Let's face it...the press continues to make this a big issue, much more so than the Obamas. They'll select a dog when the time is right for them and the dog will be better off because of the careful consideration and thoughtfulness of it's future guardian/owners.

Posted by: luvdc8 | February 26, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Well, CynicalC, I would say the Obama family has been exceptionally occupied with a gargantuous number of items over the past two months. They've moved three times, their daughters have started at a new school, the First Lady has been adapting to and fulfilling her role, and the President has been overengaged with running and rescuing the country.
I will be sorry, though, if they don't get a pound dog.

Posted by: mab123vancouver | February 26, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Did not the affirmative action couple claim they would "adopt" a dog? Can you tell me how many Portuguese Water Dogs are currently in animal shelters waiting to be adopted across the country? This is PR BS pure and simple. Besides, they won't be taking care of the dogs!

Posted by: vgailitis | February 27, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

A chimp instead of a pooch is out of bound?

Posted by: par12 | February 27, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

They will get a pet when they, as a family are ready for the responsibilty of pet ownership. This is the responsible thing to do. There are ways of dealing with allergies. My son was allergic and this was back in the 1970's. We had a dog and he survived. He is in his 40's now and is a dog and cat rescue person. Anything is possible.

Posted by: wwdmvician | February 27, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Sure, all that may very well be true -- however, I can't help but notice that they've had lots of time to talk about it, exploit it, and cash in on all the warm & fuzzy publicity.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these Obama haters. Nor am I crazed Obama worshipper. I'm keeping an open mind and a hopeful heart about his presidency. I read this morning that he wants to reverse decades of Reagan policies that have caused much economic disparity. If he can do that, he'll have me in his corner.

But that said, the Obamas aren't that young a family. They never got a dog before this. My guess is that their lifestyle didn't support it. And frankly, that's true of many people these days. It's irresponsible to get a dog if you can't make the commitment.

And yet, every year, hundreds of thousands of "purebred" dogs are brought into this world. For profit. They're bought up, enjoyed as puppies, and discarded when the problems and responsibilities begin to outweigh the "cute" factor.

Too bad Obama didn't consider that problem. A dog isn't a reward to your kids for going through a stressful period. And it's not something to be used for publicity. It's a living, sentient creature with a heart that swells and breaks just like any human's.

Just as we see people running out and buying dogs after some cute and poignant dog movie comes out, don't you think that people will be running out to get a dog because Obama has made it fashionable to do so? But will those dogs be looked after for the rest of their lives? I have read that many dogs these days are abandoned in foreclosed homes when families move on.

I know that President Obama has many priorities on his plate, but no one asked him to make this a public issue. And frankly, cute factor aside, I'm left feeling it was a bit irresponsible.

But then, I also think that the Obamas aren't really "dog people" (...not yet anyway -- a good dog will change that!).

Posted by: CynicalC | February 27, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

As a mother of a daughter who finally, happily got a puppy on her 10th birthday after years of wishing for one, I'm wondering if the Obama girls would prefer to have a puppy rather than an adult dog. I feel a bit sad for them that they can't have the luxury of making a private decision, not subject to public opinion and criticism. Finally, I believe the Obamas when they say that the girls will be responsible for the family dog.

Posted by: amom2 | February 27, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

amom2, puppies are amazing.

BUT dogs are always puppies at heart and cats are apparently always kittens. It comes right out when they find a home where they are loved and cherished.

One of the joys of rescue is taking an animal whose heart has been broken by abandonment, gaining their trust, and bringing them back around to being cute lovable babies again. Our puppies are 13, 12 and 6. Our 18-year-old puppy died last year.

Two years ago, we adopted our first cat -- a 3-year-old who, although she hadn't been neglected, and wasn't feral, simply wasn't socialized. She'd never been held, played with, talked to or even groomed. She was hostile and distrustful when we first brought her home, and hid most of the first 6 months or so. Even after almost a year, we weren't allowed to touch her. We walked around with scratches and punctures for most of this time. We waited over a year to take her in and have her spayed because she was so hostile -- enduring her frantic nightly howls for "Romeo." (Apparently, cats come in season much more frequently than dogs.)

Two years later, we finally have a playful, affectionate, chubby, curious, bossy cat who behaves more like a kitten. But then, why shouldn't she? We've spent the last two years telling her that's what she is! She's the darling of the dogs and has completely stolen our hearts. She insists on greeting all visitors.

Don't underestimate the rewards of rescuing a mature animal, but I think you're right that a person's or family's first pet should be a puppy or kitten. Training and accidents not withstanding, they actually are easier. And it helps to have some experience when bringing an adult animal into your home.

As for the Obamas, I wouldn't feel too sorry for them on this count. While it's not easy being in the public eye, I'm sure their public and private lives are tightly managed. Mr. Obama chose to tell the world about this. And rather than downplay it in the press, the Obamas have chosen to make it a celebrity matter. I agree that it would have been best to keep it private. For both their family's sake, and also for dogs everywhere. They're extraordinary people, and I'm sure once they've lived with a dog for a few years, they'll understand exactly why some of us out here cringed when we saw this become a publicity thing.

If I had one piece of advice for the Obamas, it would be to start by giving the animal your respect. And sing to them often -- they can't get enough of that!

Posted by: CynicalC | February 27, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

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