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Lots of advice on the selection of the 'first dog' for the Obamas

November 8, 2008 | 10:13 am

Poodle In a Friday news conference, President-elect Barack Obama was asked about Iran, the economy and, of course, "the puppy issue."

Why? Because his two daughters have been lobbying for a dog, setting off a worldwide debate on what kind of dog and the source of said dog. In addition, in his presidential acceptance speech, Obama pledged to get his daughters a puppy.

On Friday, the president-elect jokingly referred to the pet-selection process as a "major issue," saying it had generated a great deal of discussion on his website.

"We have two criteria that have to be reconciled," Obama said. "One is that [daughter] Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic." Yes, he would prefer to adopt a dog from a shelter. But?

"A lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me," Obama said. "So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."

The first family-elect is getting a great deal of advice. Consider:

In a poll by the American Kennel Club, Americans chose the poodle (pictured above) as the best breed for the Obamas.  "I think the poodle is an excellent choice because the breed is versatile, highly intelligent and easily trained," said AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson, adding that "good manners are important at the White House."

People Magazine reports that Cesar Milan, the "Dog Whisperer," has his own advice for the Obamas:

First, don't expect the canine to be impressed by the commander-in-chief just because of his resume. "The dog won't know he's Barack Obama and won the presidency," says Millan. "Dogs don't know if they live in Beverly Hills or the White House. They don't know what you do for a living."

Plus:

The entire family should "play pack leader roles and greet [the dog] in a calm assertive way," says Millan. And because they have such busy lives, Millan suggests a "medium energy level" dog for the family.

When it comes to recommending a breed, Millan echoes Obama's campaign when he says not to judge a dog by its looks. "You could look for a rottweiler who is a medium level energy dog or a poodle who is a medium level energy dog."

But some folks are looking beyond the selection of dog. They are concerned about naming the dog. And to that end, we bring you www.nameobamaspuppy.com. Stay tuned to L.A. Unleashed for more updates on what's really on America's mind.

-- Alice Short

Photo: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times

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