America’s first canine got star treatment and his first back-yard romp at the White House – and even presidential clearance to visit the Oval Office.
But Portuguese water dog Bo had better not get any inflated ideas about doggy sleeping arrangements.
“Not in my bed,” declared President Barack Obama.
The nation got its long-awaited first look at Bo in action as the Obamas showed off the family’s new dog on the South Lawn yesterday.
First lady Michelle Obama did most of the walking while six-month-old Bo scampered about. Then daughter Malia, 10, took a turn and Bo took off running.
Malia and sister Sasha, seven, grinned as they played with Bo. Sasha clapped her hands at one point, calling for the dog’s attention.
Plainly pleased, the president said: “He’s a star. He’s got star quality.”
“I finally got a friend,” Mr Obama joked after a reporter reminded him of President Harry Truman’s line: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
Mr Obama had promised his daughters a puppy during the presidential campaign.
Despite the name of the dog’s breed, Sasha pointed out to reporters: “He doesn’t know how to swim.”
“Yeah, apparently they have to be taught how to swim,” Mr Obama added.
Bo wagged his tail as each of the Obamas bent down to pet him.
But America’s commander in chief laid down some guidelines.
Each family member is going to have to help out, Mr Obama said, adding: “We all have to take turns walking the dog.”
Asked by a reporter where the dog would sleep, the president said Bo would have his own spot. A bed? “Not in my bed,” Mr Obama said.
The president also had a word of warning for the first lady. He said he had heard the breed liked tomatoes, so “Michelle’s garden is in danger”.
The White House will be the puppy’s fourth home. He was born in Texas, then moved to his first owner’s home in Washington DC, spent nearly a month with Senator Edward Kennedy’s dog trainer in Virginia and is now moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Bo was given up by his first owner because things did not work out with the family’s other dog.
Senator Kennedy and his wife Victoria, who had two Portuguese water dogs from Bo’s breeder and acquired a third from Bo’s litter, thought Bo would be perfect for the Obamas and gave the dog to Malia and Sasha as a gift, the dog’s breeder and a spokeswoman for Mrs Obama said.
At six months, Bo is still a “goofy puppy” and, like many Portuguese water dogs may stay that way up to the age of two or even four, said Stu Freeman, president of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America.
“A puppy is a puppy, and these are very active puppies,” he said.
The pup is mostly black, but he has white fur on his chest and front feet. The dog’s non-shedding coat also makes him a good pick for the family, given Malia’s allergies.