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Tag: presidential

Who lets the First Dog out? Often, Dale Haney

boobama5You don’t know the face, but you may know the leg: A khaki-clad hunk of it often shows up — generally from the knee down — in photographs of Bo Obama.

The leg belongs to Dale Haney, who, when the First Family is too busy to walk the dog, assumes the duty.

As a keeper of the White House grounds for nearly 40 years, Haney has managed to cultivate  relationships with the presidential pups — all the way back to Richard Nixon’s Irish setter, King Timahoe.

“They heard about me and they called me to come over here for an interview and I came and here I still am,” he told the Associated Press  during a tour of the gardens on a rainy morning when first lady Michelle Obama — Bo’s primary walker — was out of town.

“I have him a little bit more” when she’s traveling, said Haney.

haney-100Before Bo came along, Haney had walked and played with President George W. Bush’s Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley. But he says he was most fond of Spot, an English springer spaniel whose mother, Millie, belonged to Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush.

“I do have a soft spot for Spot,” he said in an online chat in 2003. “I was there when she was born and now she’s back.” Millie gave birth to Spot at the White House in 1989; the younger Bush and his wife, Laura, put Spot to sleep in 2004 after she’d had several strokes.

Haney began at the White House as a gardener, then was supervisor of grounds maintenance and lead horticulturist before becoming superintendent of all the grounds last fall.

Besides helping out with Bo, Haney tends to the nearly 19 acres of lawns, trees and gardens around the White House.

Newseum exhibit features presidential pets

The Newseum in Washington, as part of its new exhibit, “First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets,” is letting visitors cast their votes — with money — on what kind of dog the Obamas should get.

The exhibit, which started Nov. 14 and is expected to stay open at least through January’s inauguration,  showcases some of the top dogs who have resided at the White House.

While hundreds of pets have lived at the White House — including parrots, goats, a one-legged rooster, raccoons and cats — dogs have been the most popular pet, from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier, Fala, to George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniel, Millie, whose book sold more copies than Bush’s own.

Many presidents had multiple dogs, according to the Newseum. Calvin Coolidge kept 12 dogs and a pair of raccoons and John F. Kennedy, though allergic to dogs, had nine, including one that was a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

More than a few presidents brought other critters with them. President Theodore Roosevelt and his family had a one-legged rooster and a pony named Algonquin that once rode in the White House elevator. President William Howard Taft had a Jersey cow named Pauline.

“Animals have always been a part of White House life,” said Newseum exhibits chief Cathy Trost. “More than 50 dogs have lived at the White House, along with alligators, goats, raccoons, parrots, you name it.”

Visitors are casting votes for what kind of dog the Obamas should get with pennies, quarters and a few dollar bills in a small exhibit on presidential pets at the Newseum, a museum about the news. (The museum, which announced a staff reduction this week, says it will use the cash for educational programs.)

Voters can choose from the American Kennel Club’s top five recommendations for allergy-sensitive breeds — poodle, soft coated wheaten terrier, bichon frise, Chinese crested and miniature schnauzer — along with an unspecified shelter dog, as several animal welfare organizations have recommended.

So far, a shelter dog appears to be the people’s choice, followed by the bichon frise, Trost said.

First pup: Obama to make good on promise

Barack Obama — on top of all the other history he made last night — may have been the first president-elect to mention a dog in his election speech.

“I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.”

A Discovery Channel blog says the “brief puppy mention may represent the first time that an animal has been referenced in a presidential victory speech. If not, use of the word ‘puppy’ would certainly seem to be a rarity.”

Acknowledging his family’s contributions to his campaign, Obama brought up the promise he’d made earlier to his daughters — to get a dog once the campaign was over — and indicated he planned to make good on it.

The family has said they plan to adopt a shelter or rescue dog.

Joe Biden may be adding a dog to the family as well.

He told reporters traveling with his campaign earlier that his wife had promised him a “big dog” if he got elected, according to Reuters. That promise was made in connection with his presidential campaign, but Biden said his wife later said it would apply to a vice-presidential victory as well.

Jill Biden had taped pictures of different dogs on the back of the seat in front of him on his campaign plane to inspire the candidate as he criss-crossed the country in the final sprint to election day.

Doggedly presidential look-alikes

The votes have been counted, and the results have been announced: The winners of The “My Dog Looks Like Obama or McCain” Dog-Look-Alike Photo Contest are Amore Francine and Ginny Doll.

 
The Obama Look-Alike winner, Amore Francine, is a 52-pound boxer, prone to tilting her head, from Mt. Clemens, MI. The McCain Look-Alike winner, Ginny Doll of Rochester Hills, MI, is a 7-pound Maltese with well-groomed white hair, and what contest organizers called a “relatable, friendly face.”

The winning photos, along with more information about each dog and the contest, are available at Rover411.com, a website that celebrates dogs and their owners.

The dogs were chosen from ten finalists in an online contest. Each week, one dog from each category with the lowest votes was eliminated. Over 4000 votes were received.

All this brings to mind my own comparison of presidential candidates and dog breeds, which appeared on my old Baltimore Sun “Mutts” blog.

For Obama, I chose this one …

And for McCain:

Dirty politics: Do we smell a smear campaign?

Another tale from the not-so-good neighbor department:

Police in St. Cloud, Minnesota, have ticketed a man for ”unlawful dumping” after he admitted to being the culprit who had been placing small bags of dog feces in the back of his neighbor’s pick up truck — all because it was adorned with a McCain sign.

Police said Donald Esmay, 19, of St. Cloud, told radio station KNSI-AM that he’d been finding small baggies of dog feces in the back of his pickup truck for the past few weeks — ever since he put a 2-foot-by-4-foot McCain sign there.

He and his family watched the truck trying to catch the culprit, but didn’t have any luck until Wednesday when his mother and brother saw someone from the neighborhood, according to an Associated Press report.

They confronted the 45-year-old man, who admitted to it. When police later spoke with the man, he said he did it because he “hates McCain.”

The unlawful dumping ticket comes with a $183 fine.

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