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Tag: ted kennedy

Bo Obama’s value placed at $1,600

You can’t put a pricetag on the family dog, but in the case of Bo Obama it’s $1,600.

The value of Bo — a gift to the president from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy — was listed on annual financial disclosure forms the White House released Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Dollar-wise, the Portuguese water dog, was a mere drip compared to the president’s other income, including royalties from his books, “Dreams From My Father” and “Audacity of Hope,” which brought in between $1 million and $5 million each.

In addition to his $400,000 annual salary, Obama  listed a number investments which, including those held jointly with his wife, were worth between $2.2 million and $7.5 million in 2009. His Nobel Peace Prize carried a $1.4 million award, but the president donated that to charity.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Rating Bo Obama’s job performance

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The First Dog has completed his first year in office, and, as far as we can tell,  he has performed his duties (that’s duties, with a “T”) admirably.

Bo has been cute, playful and photogenic, and he has made the Obamas, who can come across as a little robotic at times, appear a little more down to earth and, though they live in that big white house, a little more like the rest of us.

(You can view a nice Washington Post photo gallery of Bo — it comes up after the annoying advertisement – here.)

There are those who say the White House could be reaping more benefits from Bo, but in our opinion, it’s not about what your dog can do for you, but about what you can do for your dog.

The Obamas held off on getting a dog until they were settled in the White House. Obama was, in fact, the first pet-less president ever elected — a fact some say cost him pet-lover support during the campaign.

Once in office, the family’s scientific — some might say emotionless — approach to getting a dog, one they could be assured wouldn’t trigger their daughter’s allergies, and the fact they didn’t get a dog in need of rescue, may have taken away some of the moment’s charm as well, but not much.

All of this was studied by Diana C. Mutz — yes, Mutz –  the Samuel A. Stouffer Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania who, according to Daniel Rubin in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer column, studied the electoral appeal of Barack Obama in the fall.

Her conclusion, says Rubin: “Dude could have used a dog.”

All of Obama’s pre-election talk about how they were going to get a dog underscored the fact that the presidential contender did not have one, according to Mutz’s research.

Mutz says Obama was the first pet-less elected president (Chester Alan Arthur, the 21st president, didn’t have one, but he was appointed after James Garfield was shot.)

More than 400 pets have occupied the White House, she says, and dog lovers represent a huge chunk of the electorate, with about half of U.S. households owning dogs (Republicans more so than Democrats, by 6 percent.)

Mutz, who has two dogs, three cats and runs an animal rescue out of her home, concluded that  the probability of voting for Obama went down 16 percent if one owned a dog.

Quite possibly, she says, dog owners identify with other dog owners, and  a sort of projection occurs where dog owners prefer the more “doglike” candidate.

I know I do; and by doglike, I mean honest.

As much as Bo — a Portuguese water dog that was a gift to the First Family from the late Ted Kennedy — might have helped in the campaign, the Obama family getting a dog then would have smacked of exploitation. I respect the fact they waited, and that, in the year since his arrival, he has not been overly-foisted on the public.

So keep up the good work, Bo, and just be a dog.

 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The story behind the Obama’s new dog

Ted Kennedy may be getting the credit for the Obama’s new pup, but if it weren’t for Vasco Bensaude, it probably wouldn’t have been a Portuguese water dog that wound up on the White House lawn.

In the 1930′s Bensaude, a wealthy Portuguese businessman and dog lover was introduced to the breed by friends. By then, the breed’s numbers were dwindling, and there were only a few still doing the job they were bred to do — fisherman’s assistant.

Once seen all along the coast of Portugal, the breed was prized by fishermen — for the companionship they offered, the security they provided on docked boats, and their ability to jump in the water and herd schools of fish into the nets.

They had other skills as well, such as retrieving lost tackle or broken nets, and to serve as couriers, delivering messages from one boat to the next.

The first written description of the dog dates to 1297, when a monk wrote about a sailor hauled out of the sea by a dog with a “black coat of rough hair, cut to the first rib and with a tuft on the tip of his tail.”

The Portuguese water dog — known in Portugal as Cao de Agua – is believed to be a blend of poodle, Kerry blue terrier and the Irish water spaniel.

Improved technology in the fishing industry lessened the demand for the Cao de Agua, and only a few remained in the 1930s, when Bensaude acquired one named Leao. Leao became the founding sire of the modern breed, the first litter of which was born in May 1937.

It took another 30 years for the dog to come to America. The first didn’t arrive until 1968, and was a descendant of Leao.

The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was formed in 1972, and the breed was acknowledged by the American Kennel club in 1983.

(Source: Portuguese Water Dog Club of America)

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