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First Dog will be a rescued Portuguese water dog, says Michelle Obama

The Obamas plan to get a Portuguese water dog

It's (almost) official: The Obamas are getting a rescued Portuguese water dog.  Or, rather, Michelle Obama told People magazine that the family was on the lookout for a dog who fit that description, was "old enough" and was a "match" for the family dynamic. 

The primary rationale behind the choice of a Portuguese water dog is, of course, its allergy-friendly coat (a trait also found in poodles, soft-coated wheaten terriers and other breeds).  The breed's temperament and "middle of the road" size were also factors, according to Mrs. Obama, who added: "And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them.  So that's where we're leaning." 

Our colleague Johanna Neuman at the Top of the Ticket blog explains that one of those "folks we know" Mrs. Obama references is another Washington mover-and-shaker:

The choice is also likely to delight Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, an early Obama supporter who has two Portuguese water dogs himself and has never been shy about lobbying for his causes.

(One of Kennedy's dogs, Splash, is the narrator of his children's book, "My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C.")

The timeline for the new addition?  Look for its arrival after spring break, says the first lady.  From People:

Here's a sample of a typical family conversation on the matter: "So Sasha says, 'April 1st.' I said, 'April.' She says, 'April 1st.' It's, like, April!" Mrs. Obama recalls. "Got to do it after spring break. You can't get a new dog and then go away for a week."

The Obamas' one dog-related sticking point, now that the breed is decided, is the new pet's name, People reports:

"Oh, the names are really bad. I don't even want to mention it, because there are names floating around and they're bad," Mrs. Obama says with a laugh. "You listen and you go -– like, I think, Frank was one of them. Frank! Moose was another one of them. Moose. I said, well, what if the dog isn't a moose? Moose. I'm like, no, come on, let's work with the names a little bit."

The level of interest nationwide in the first family's dog search has been surprising, Mrs. Obama told People.  But it's "all great and gracious attention. People are just being as helpful as you can imagine."  The interview will appear in the issue of People due on newsstands this Friday.

"The Portuguese water dog is a fun-loving dog with a lot of energy," Michelle Barlak of the AKC told the Baltimore Sun. "It's a great family dog, but they have to understand the dog will require quite a bit of exercise.... Two young girls who are very active are good companions for the dog."

What do you think of the Obamas' choice?  Will an energetic water retriever be a good match for the first family? 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Digit, a 3-year-old Portuguese water dog, waits to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show last month. Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (20)

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I'd name the dog Stimulus.
It's a very active dog and full of energy and surprises like a Stimulus.

Porties are great. We have one and my kids love him. But good luck on finding a rescued porty. I've never seen breeders so particular as to who gets their puppies. I'm sure the Obama's will find one, but it won't be rescued. As for names, what's wrong with Frank and Moose? After owning a porty for a few weeks Moose will make sense.

This is a bad choice...PWD's are not a common dog. The Obama's getting a PWD will make everyone else in America want one. This will cause people to become careless with breeding and it won't be long before this amazing and beautiful breed is wrought with medical problems due to overbreeding. This is a shame!!!!

An adopted dog already has a name and he/she may like the name they have been responding to.
The first family's choice of dog is right on BUT, the world should be told that they have found a nice labradoddle. That would avert the potential craze for everyone to find a portie for themselves. hopefully i'm not wrong in thinking that you can't overbreed a cross-breed.

We have a portie so I am fully behind this decision. Our portie also happens to be the first dog I have ever owned, and I can say that he is a great first dog. He loves being around people, is friendly towards other dogs and just loves to be shown (and show) affection. He's 3 now and is very good with little kids (he can be running and playing with abandon one moment and then completely stop and be the gentlest thing imaginable the moment he gets near a small child). (Of course, this behavior is absolutely taught and trained into him and he is always supervised around small ones, but still, he is a wonder with kids.) He is just a joy. The Obamas will have a blast with theirs.

And yes, rescued porties are very rare and breeders are very picky, but c'mon, it's the Obamas we're talking about here. There will be plenty of rescue associations that will be dying to be the one to give the Obamas their dog.

I agree with Rob, it'll be another "101 Dalmatians" which caused the shelters to become full of discarded dalmatians when people realized a dog isn't a stuffed toy. They should choose a doodle.

This sounds like an attempt to make good on the "promise" of getting a rescue dog. Someone has not done their homework... there are no rescue PWDs. My guess is they will get a dog from a breeder under the guise of a "rescue". As an owner of 2 wonderful PWD, the idea of a porty in the White House is upsetting. This will become an overbred dog due to popularity and irresponsible breeders.

I wholeheartedly agree with Rob! As the owner of 2 of these great dogs, I don't think they have any idea what they're getting themselves into. Great dogs, but seriously need WORK and exercise! They are WORKING dogs. The average family could grow very frustrated and we'll find these in shelters everywhere. Very sad.

PWD are wonderful!
I want to see how they deal with nipping.
And when the puppy runs into the oval office and snags papers off the presidents desk, will we see secret service all take off after it. So much fun could be had.

Will it be named April?

I own one, Goji. He's great but a ton of work. This is no stay at home dog, he needs a master, and constant attention. We all have been joking about what will happen when the Obama's dog jumps on the Queen of England, or the Prime Minister of Canada. Jumping on people is part of the breed standard.

Difficult to find a rescue? I'm sure that there are ethical breeders out there who would take back a dog/puppy that for whatever reason no longer suits a family, and the dog/puppy could then go to a new home at the Obama's. I would then classify the dog as a rescue. I'm sure all ethical PWD breeders would somehow manage to contact the Obamas and advise them on the dogs/puppies they have available.
Good luck President Obama and family on finding your perfect new best friend!

I think its a great idea. I'm also glad the decision has finally been made. A promise is a promise and they promised the girls that dog at the beginning of this journey. They deserve it for their great will to share their Dad with the rest of the world. Let's all stay positive and keep the negative comments to ourselves.

I have thought all along since knowing the Obamas wanted a hypoallergenic dog, that a PWD was a great choice. Also, the breed is smart enough to give the family a challenge. And as it loves to be around people as much as possible and is a working dog, there are more than enough people around the White House and more than enough problems on which it can help. Many potential owners take a puppy only to realize it is not the right kind of dog for them. So the Obamas will have a chance to get a "rescue" dog in this manner. Call it "Esperanca" (Portuguese for the English word, "hope"!

I'm sure glad they are getting a PWD! This sends a message to the world that it is perfectly OKAY to get and own a PUREBRED DOG! Yippee! This is an important message for all...in light of what the animal rights extremists would have folks believe.

I think that the Obama's are not making the wrong choice. After all it is THEIR dog. I really don't think that people will rush out to buy one of these dogs. I don't 'thing that schnauzers became more popular and the Bush's had two of them. I am sure they have people helping them decide what kind of dog is right for their family. I am just happy for the girls that their daddy won, and they get a dog. Barack and Michelle are great. When my mom was in the hospital last year they sent her a personally signed get well card. I have got to meet him several times and I talked to her once. I wish them nothing but the best. My dogs shadow and telly (both mixed breeds, telly is a rescue dog) can't wait to see who the new first dog is!!!

A PWD would be perfect for 2 girls that like to run. I have one that is black and white, and there is not a day that goes by that some one wants to know what kind of dog she is. Her name is ZuZu.. She does not shed at all. Janis

I PRAY THAT THE BREEDERS AND PUPPY MILLS DON'T START CHURNING OUT PWD'S WHAT A MISTAKE THE SHELTERS AND RESCUE GROUPS ARE FULL OF DOGS THAT DON'T SHED. I WILL HOPE FOR THE BEST, I'M A PERSON THAT IS AGAINST BREEDING AND BUYING OF DOGS UNTIL OUR SHELTER CAGES ARE EMPTY.

They are beautiful dogs for a beautiful family. I think the kids will love their dog. It always amazes me how negative people are and how, no matter the subject, they always have to be so petty about it. Good luck to the First Family. We finally have a family that us middle-class, smart and happy people can relate to!

wow - that is really surprising. I was all about the Labradoodle - guess I just lost $20. I had to do a little more research on why they picked the PWD, and found an OK description of it: http://tinyurl.com/d5dazy. It seems like a good choice the more I think about it, wish I had my $20 back though.

PWD is a wonderful choice. We got our first Portuguese in 1984 and love the breed. My brother has allergies and has no reaction to our dog. Since the PWD's almost became extinct, all PWD breeders are so very careful with breeding and who gets a puppy. We had a 2 day interview before we got our first one. Also the "jumping on people" is NOT a PWD characteristic. It is a bad habit that any dog can have unless trained not to. Porties are very smart and extremely loving, friendly dogs. I think they should name him/her Karma. This would fit especially well for a rescue. They do happen with any breed. Even one of the 10 rarest breeds in the world.


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