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Tag: presidency

Catching up with Bo

Mercy, another Bo coup: New Yorker cover

We rarely meet a New Yorker cover we don’t like (New Yorkers themselves; that’s another story) — and we especially like this one of little Bo in the White House front yard.

It’s by author and illustrator Bob Staake, who has also put together a new book on the family’s quest for a dog, ”The First Pup: The Unofficial Story Of How Sasha and Malia’s Dad Got the Presidency — And How They Got a Dog.” Somewhat surprisingly, Media Bistro reports, it hasn’t found a publisher yet.

On the New Yorker‘s book blog, Staake explained how he wrote his book as the First Family debated breeds and prepared for their new puppy, the now famous Portuguese water dog Bo. He also explains the thinking behind the New Yorker cover.

“You put any dog on the cover and everyone goes crazy,” Staake wrote. “This cover is good at being cute, but it also works as a metaphor for Obama. The best New Yorker covers are the ones where the reader looks and brings their own interpretation, which brings the image to a new dimension.”

“Bo” book hits the shelves almost instantly

This has got to be some kind of record — the day after the dog arrived at the White House, the first “Bo book” is already on the market.

“Bo, America’s Commander in Leash,” published by Mascot Books in Herndon, Va., is the first children’s book “starring the most famous dog in the world,” according to the publisher’s website.

“Join Bo on an exciting adventure as he learns all about the White House and experiences the traditions that make it such a special place. Bo’s adventures include time-honored White House traditions, including the Easter egg roll, Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall, the pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey, and all the festivities associated with holiday time at the White House.”

In other words, it’s a book about the White House into which Bo is being quickly inserted in hopes of capitalizing on the bad case of Bo fever we all seem to have.

Mascot is small independent publisher in Herndon, Va., that specializes in producing titles based on university and school mascots. The book is written from Bo’s point of view. Here’s an excerpt:

One day I was feeling a little mischevious and decided to swipe the Presidential letter opener from the President’s desk. Always a good sport, President Obama played along with my antics and chased me around the room, calling “Give me that back, Bo!” I was afraid that I might end up in the Presidential doghouse after this stunt.

AKC offers praise, advice for Obamas


The American Kennel Club has — no surprise here — congratulated the Obama family on the anticipated arrival of their purebred 6-month-old Portuguese water dog, Bo.

And they’ve filled us in on his pedigree as well: the dog’s official name is Amigo’s New Hope, and he was bred by Art and Martha Stern, long-time breeders who reside near Dallas.

Bo is indeed a littermate of Senator Ted Kennedy’s pup Cappy, the AKC confirms.

The organization believes the dog will not only leave “a good mark” on the Obamas (but preferably no stains) and will “shine a spotlight on dogs and the importance of responsible dog ownership around the world.”

“With one of the American Kennel Club’s primary missions being the encouragement of responsible dog ownership, we are delighted with the wonderful example you have already set in researching the right breed for your family and obtaining a dog through a reputable breeder who is a member of the AKC parent club, The Portugese Water Dog Club of America,” said AKC President and CEO Dennis Sprung in a letter to the Obama family today.

Of the breed, the AKC says PWDs possess a lot of energy, and a predictable temperament. They are loyal and loving companions, but require daily vigorous exercise. Historically, the breed spent most of its day swimming, assisting its fisherman owner by retrieving broken nets, diving for fish and delivering messages between ships.

Although currently only the 64th most popular breed in the United States according to 2008 AKC registration statistics, the Portuguese Water Dog’s popularity is likely to rise due to its appointment as First Pup.

Bo does diddly for the adoption cause

President Obama and family — while selecting a majorly cute dog — missed out on a chance to further the cause of animal adoption worldwide by opting for a breeder-produced purebred.

Bo, the six-month-old Portuguese water dog gifted to the Obama’s by Sen. Edward Kennedy, was proving an unpopular choice among animal welfare advocates, though some tempered their remarks by pointing out that, while not a shelter or rescue dog, Bo had been rejected by a previous owner.

A litter mate of the Kennedy’s newest dog, Cappy, Bo apparently had a previous owner, but was returned to the breeder because he didn’t get along well with the owner’s other dogs.

On the bright side, that means it was a breeder responsible enough to insist on reclaiming dogs whose placements don’t work out.

On the not quite so bright side, though, Obama missed out on an opportunity to raise awareness of homeless dogs — at a time when a lot of shelters desperately need some help.

“They were looking at shelters but in the end the Kennedys learned of this litter mate of their dog who needed a home, and they wanted to give the girls a gift – and here we are,” Catherine McCormick-Lelyveld, a spokesman for the First Lady, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He moves in Tuesday.”

President Obama had expressed a preference for a shelter dog, but the family also needed a “hypo-allergenic dog because of daughter Malia’s allergies.

“…Our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me … So whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household,” the president said shortly after taking office.

“This is a missed opportunity to set a pet-adoption trend among Americans,” said Abbie Moore, executive director of “With pet relinquishment up 20 to 30 percent due to the poor economy, pets in shelters can use all the help they can get.”

Since the Obama’s did not get the dog from a shelter, the Sun-Times reported, the Obamas will instead made a donation to a humane society.

(White House photos)

The Obama’s dog should be named …

Apparently only a few days remain before the Obama family dog arrives at the White House – a Portuguese water dog, most sources seem to be saying.

That means we better run now with our list of the top 10 names for the First Family’s dog – assuming that, if they haven’t already, they’ll quickly come up with a name for the pup and not take another four months to get that accomplished.

Since we don’t know the gender we’ve included masculine, feminine and a few unisex names. Got a better suggestion? Send it along.

1. Ah-choo (or Gesundheit )– in honor of all the sneezing that, since the dog is allegedly hypo-allergenic, won’t be going on

2. Vasco – in honor of Vasco Bensaude, the Portuguese shipping magnate who kept the breed from going extinct.

3. Nottadoodle – Just to get back at those pushy Labradoodle fans who insisted the First Family choose that hybrid.

4. Monica – As a reminder that, when you’re in the White House, things can go down(hill) really quickly.

5. McCain – In honor of his opponent in the presidential race.

6. Stimulus, or Stimuli – We could use all we can get.

7. Hope – Maybe a bit audacious, but a nice name.

8. Omar – In honor of the president’s favorite character on “The Wire,” a gay stickup artist who steals from drug pushers to give to the poor.

9. Intruder – Just to make the Secret Service jump up every time anyone calls the dog.

10. Fin – In honor of the far-too-drawn-out, much-too-commented-upon drama of what the First Dog would be finally being over.

The dog who saved Nixon

The No. 1 rule for a website, most will tell you, is to write short. We at ohmidog! have never been too fond of rules. Today, with all the hubbub about Obama’s yet-to-be-named dog, with gift dog offers pouring in to the Obama family, we travel back in time to look at another dog gifted to a politician, how that gift came to be given, and how Checkers, arguably the most famous dog in politics, rescued Richard Nixon’s career. This article (written by me) originally appeared in the Baltimore Sun on Sept. 22, 2002.

She taught music. He was a traveling salesman. They never gained much fame. But, with help from their cocker spaniel Boots, they may have changed the course of history.

Had Beatrice Carrol not been hired to teach piano at a women’s college in Texas, had Lou Carrol not picked up a newspaper to read during another lonely dinner on the road, had Boots not been paired up with a stud named Ace and given birth to a litter of black and white cockers two months before the Republican National Convention in 1952, Richard Nixon — it could be argued — might never have been president.

It was the Carrols who — back when TVs were black and white and Communists were “Reds” — gave the Nixon family the puppy they would name Checkers.

And it was Checkers who provided the sentimental hook in a speech that helped the then-U.S. senator from California secure his role as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice presidential running mate.

Nixon’s “Fund Speech,” better known as his Checkers speech — given 50 years ago tomorrow — was historic on several levels. It was the first time a politician, bypassing news organizations, made a direct appeal to the public on television. The speech was watched by the largest audience TV had ever amassed. And, most historians now agree, it resulted in Eisenhower turning around a decision — all but made, Nixon found out shortly before going on the air — to remove him from the ticket.

But like so much else when it comes to the man who would later serve as the nation’s 37th president, the Checkers story is full of contradictions.

Nixon barely knew the dog when he gave the speech. He implied she was a surprise when, in fact, his staff had known about the planned gift for more than a month. And, in the speech, he both got her gender wrong and incorrectly stated where she had been picked up.

Those discrepancies — granted, not as alarming as an 18 1/2 -minute gap on a White House tape recording — never got the kind of scrutiny that Nixon would in 1974, when the Watergate scandal and investigation led to his resignation as president.

For Lou Carrol, “that whole Watergate mess” made for some uncomfortable times, as well. While he had remained in relative obscurity, while he had never boasted about his gift to Nixon, he became, after that, hesitant to mention it at all.

To this day, few know he is the “man down in Texas” Nixon referred to in the speech. Other than appearing on two TV quiz shows in the 1950s — I’ve Got a Secret and What’s My Line? — Carrol never received much publicity. “Nor,” he says, “was I seeking it.

“It was just one of those things you do spontaneously. There’s a joy in doing that kind of thing,” he said. “Every time I’d see those children — those pictures of them and the dog and how happy they looked — it put a smile on my face.”

Read more »

Obama dog 3: A Denver stray named Karma

Karma was a stray, a small white dog hit by a car and left to die on a Denver roadside.

She was scooped off the street by Denver Animal Control officers and taken to Harrison Memorial Animal Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a broken leg.

A rescue organization, Hope for Animals, took her in and Karma ended up, after surgery, with Mary Monnet, a volunteer and foster care provider. Monnet has cared for Karma, who’s no longer in the movement-restricting cone, for the past seven weeks.

It was Monnet who decided Karma would be the perfect dog for the Obama’s and, in Karma’s name, launched a letter-writing and public relations campaign to bring the dog to the first family’s attention.

She also started a blog that tells Karma’s story and includes the letters written to Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia — at least three so far. In those, she can get pretty poetic: ”Mom says having her arms around me is like hugging a cloud.”

Monnet knew Karma — being neither Labradoodle nor Portugese water dog — would be an underdog. The best guess is she’s a terrier mix. But Monnet decided to get her name out there anyway.

She’s gotten some TV coverage and hopes to enlist Denver’s mayor in getting word of the pup to the Obamas.

Obama dog 2: 4th grader offers Choco-doodle

A 4th grader in Farmington, Pa., has offered Malia Obama his choco-doodle.

Zachary William Shiley, a student at Wharton Elementary School in Farmington, is offering a 6-week-old female Labradoodle puppy (emphasis on the labra) to the First Family.

The puppy, born Nov. 26, was the only offspring that survived the litter of an 11-year-old chocolate lab named — of all things — Hillary.

The father is a 1-year-old Labradoodle named — appropriately enough — Bullet.

Zachary Shiley told the Herald-Standard that the family has been calling the dog “Vegas” because his mother was in Las Vegas when Hillary became pregnant.

Apparently it wasn’t an intentional breeding, but, be that as it may, Hillary got her groove back, and now, the result of what happened in Farmington, if the Shiley’s have their way, won’t stay in Farmington, but head instead to the nation’s capital.

Zachary describes the puppy as full of energy, a little shy but “very smart and friendly.”

“We want her to have a good home, and what could be better than the White House… A dream come true,” Zachary wrote in his letter to Malia. “I almost forgot, the puppy is free,” he added. It was his mother’s idea to offer it to the Obamas, he said, but he’s all for it.

Included with the letter are two photographs — Zachary and the puppy, and the puppy with an American flag.

Two Fayette County commissioners planned to deliver Zachary’s letter at the inauguration.

Obama dog 1: A puppy mill Labradoodle

You gotta like this choice. Not only is it a gift from another nation (Canada), but it’s also a pup whose mama was rescued from a puppy mill.

The Winnipeg Humane Society seized about 50 Labradoodles from a puppy mill in southwestern Manitoba in December. The dogs were found living in their own feces, with urine burns and intestinal diseases. Of those 50, two have since given birth.

Humane Society Executive director Bill McDonald hopes that one of the Labradoodle pups — all of which are recovering nicely — will soon become part of the First Family.

McDonald  sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking him to consider offering Obama the puppy on his first visit to Canada.

McDonald thinks it’s a great idea, and we agree. In addition to all it would do for U.S.-Canada relations, it’s about as politically corrrect a choice as there could be, likely to appease all the animal welfare organizations that have urged Obama to get a shelter or rescue dog. This one is both — and a Labradoodle.

The province’s animal protection officers raided the puppy mill on Dec. 5. The dogs were taken from the owner and placed in an animal-care facility northeast of Winnipeg. Two of the rescued dogs were pregnant and recently gave birth to 11 pups.