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

February 25, 2009 |  1:05 pm

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

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