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Category: Bo the First Dog

Beanie Babies modeled after Obamas' dog Bo are selling like hotcakes

Beanie Babies modeled after Bo the Portuguese water dog are selling like hotcakes Last month, toy company Ty announced its plans to market a Beanie Baby in the image of the new Obama family dog, Bo.  And the Bo dolls appear to be popular enough that they're hard to keep in stock.  The Associated Press reports:

Less than a dozen "Bo" Beanie Babies were sent to the educational toy shop Learning Express in the Chicago suburb of St. Charles, and he sold out quickly, owner Aalap Shah said Wednesday.

"We were fortunate enough to receive a small shipment of 'Bo,' " Shah said. "He sold out within a few hours. He was very popular. We can't wait to get some more in."

Capitalizing on the first family's popularity seems to come naturally to Ty, which came under fire early this year when it introduced two dolls, "Marvelous Malia" and "Sweet Sasha," apparently modeled after the president's daughters.  (A Ty spokesperson said the company had chosen the names simply because "they are beautiful names," but the dolls were quickly rebranded.  You can see "Marvelous Mariah" and "Sweet Sydney" above -- and clearly they bear no resemblance to the Obama girls.  Cough, cough.)

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Malia and Sasha Obama not pulling their weight with first puppy Bo?

Bo walks with Malia and Sasha on the White House lawn What parent doesn't know that their child's promises to feed, care for and walk the new dog aren't likely to pan out? 

First Lady Michelle Obama is just the latest in a long line of moms and dads who wind up assuming responsibility for the less-fun parts of dog ownership, according to People Magazine:

"I got up at 5:15 a.m. in the morning to walk my puppy," [Mrs. Obama] said Thursday of Bo, the Portuguese Water Dog who joined the family Easter weekend, fulfilling President Obama's campaign promise to daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

"Even though the kids are supposed to do a lot of the work, I'm still up at 5:15 a.m. taking my dog out. So for everyone who has a child asking for a puppy – you have to want the dog," Mrs. Obama said to knowing laughter from a luncheon audience of congressional spouses. "As I do," she added. "I love my Bo."

What's a parent to do to avoid picking up all the slack?  I-Love-Dogs suggests making a chart to remind kids of pressing pet care needs. "Let your child mark a check when the chore has been completed. The more he completes the chore, the easier it will be to remember," the site advises. 

Or if you're like Mrs. Obama (and a lot of other parents out there), you can just take care of your new pet yourself.  But where's the educational value in that?

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Malia, left, and Sasha Obama walk Bo on the White House lawn.  Credit: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press

Obamas' new dog Bo is a "kind of crazy" foot-biter, says the first lady

President Obama holds Bo during his media debut last week on the White House's South Lawn.

A group of children visiting the White House as part of a Take Your Child to Work Day program learned that new first dog Bo is "kind of crazy" and stays up late into the night playing with toys. 

First lady Michelle Obama said Bo startled the family with his activities just last night.  "It was like 10 o'clock," Mrs. Obama told the group, which included Vice President Joe Biden's granddaughter Maisie and other children and grandchildren of administration staff.  "Everybody was asleep and we hear all this barking and jumping around.... The president and I came out and we thought somebody was out there. And it was just Bo. He was playing with his ball. And it was like there was another person in the house."

In a question-and-answer session with Michelle Obama, the new family pet was a frequent topic of conversation.  The Associated Press shares the first lady's response when asked what she would do if Bo ran away:

"I would be very sad, first of all but ... he has [dog] tags, and hopefully someone would find him and bring him back," she said.

She said it would be hard for Bo to get off the South Lawn, one of the places he is taken for walks and to play, because it is gated. But if he were to get out, she said, lots of people would try to track him down.

"I think everyone at the White House would probably help go out and find him," she said. "That's why we're working on training him, so that he doesn't run away and he listens when we call him. And so far he's doing OK, so we hope we don't have that problem."

Another bit of information about the 6-month-old Portuguese water dog came to light: "He loves to chew on people's feet," Mrs. Obama told the children.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: President Obama holds Bo during his media debut last week on the White House's South Lawn.  Credit: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press.

Toy company Ty, fresh from Sasha and Malia Obama doll controversy, introduces Beanie Bo


Ty, the manufacturer of '90s toy-of-the-moment Beanie Babies, came under fire earlier this year with the release of two dolls modeled after Sasha and Malia Obama.  ("There's nothing on the dolls that refers to the Obama girls," Ty spokesperson Tania Lundeen said at the time, insisting the company had chosen the first daughters' names simply because "they are beautiful names.")

The dolls, marketed as "Sweet Sasha" and "Marvelous Malia," were eventually renamed by the company. (They're now called "Sweet Sydney" and "Marvelous Mariah," but, for the record, the originals are fetching considerably more than the new models on eBay. One seller is currently offering both for the low, low price of $2,400.) 

Now the toy company is looking to capitalize on the newest Obama family member with the introduction of "Beanie Bo."  The Chicago Tribune's politics blog, the Swamp, reports:

Ty Inc. promises that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Beanie Bo will go to animal shelters -- which is where the Obama family once considered finding the dog that they promised the girls, until Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) found the perfect pet for the president's family, a littermate to one of his own PWDs.

If the now-extinct Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia already have become collectors' items, they still have "Bubbly Britney'' and "Hip Hannah'' for your consideration.

Beanie Bo can be purchased "at select stores," according to Ty's website.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Business Wire

Portuguese water dogs like Obamas' Bo have a lot to offer genetics researchers

Bo the first dog Beyond his allergy-friendly coat, Bo the first dog (and other Portuguese water dogs like him) has a lot to offer. 

Portuguese water dogs are the most genetically studied dog breed out there, and one of the reasons they're so well-suited to genetic research is their rarity.  There are a relatively small number of "PWDs" or "Porties" out there (at least in the U.S.), and all of those registered with the American Kennel Club can trace their lineage back to a group of about 30 "founding" animals that lived in the 1930s. 

This fact means that the amount of genetic variation within Bo's breed is significantly less than it is with other, more popular breeds.  And the research staff at the University of Utah's Georgie Project -- named after its founder's Portuguese water dog, who died of an autoimmune disease in 1996 -- are capitalizing on it.

"This breed may be genetically predisposed to autoimmune diseases...Let us hope [Georgie's] death will have helped remove this curse from the breed," reads a statement on the Georgie Project's website.  Toward that end, its researchers have examined the genomes of more than 1,000 PWDs, received X-rays from 600 and conducted more than 150 autopsies on the bodies of dogs whose owners donated them for research.

"Dogs have many of the same diseases that humans have. There is great hope these [findings] will translate to humans," Georgie Project senior researcher Kevin Chase told Trine Tsouderos of the Chicago Tribune

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Presidential pets of yesteryear make First Dog Bo look tame


Some among us have stated their objections to the Obamas' choice of pet.  For those disappointed that the president's dog was not plucked from a shelter (and don't get us wrong; we're among them), one silver lining to the Portuguese water dog cloud may be that there's not a far more exotic animal than a purebred dog in the White House.

Say, an alligator.  Or a pygmy hippo.  Or a tiger.

Presidents past -- and no, we don't just mean Teddy Roosevelt -- have brought a slew of strange animals onto the White House grounds.  From Old Whiskers, the goat that belonged to Benjamin Harrison's son Russell, to Pauline, William Howard Taft's personal milk cow, odd pets flocked to Washington, D.C., in past generations.  Mentalfloss notes that several presidents had pet alligators:

Hoover owned a slew of dogs, but those weren’t his only pets. His second son, Allan Henry Hoover, owned a pair of gators that were occasionally allowed to wander around the White House grounds. Sound crazy? Blame John Quincy Adams for setting the precedent. The sixth president also had a pet gator. His was a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette; it lived in a bathroom in the East Room of the White House. According to some reports, he enjoyed using the gator to scare his guests.

Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace, not only kept dogs, but also raccoons, a wallaby, a donkey and a bobcat -- and the aforementioned pygmy hippo, Billy.  Billy, who was captured in Liberia, was given to Coolidge as a gift by tire magnate Harvey Firestone.  Coolidge donated Billy to the National Zoo, where he went on to father more than 20 hippo offspring.  He's an ancestor to most pygmy hippos in American zoos.

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Newt Gingrich says focus on first dog Bo is 'fairly stupid'

Newt Gingrich calls focus on Bo the Portuguese water dog

Count former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich among the political pet pooh-poohers in Washington. 

Gingrich, in an interview Sunday, minced no words in stating his annoyance at the media frenzy around new first dog BoCNN reports:

"I hope that the girls love the dog," Gingrich said on ABC's "This Week."  "I hope the family – and all the pressure they're going to be in – finds it useful. And I think that this whole thing is fairly stupid." ...

"It's great that they have a dog. It's great that the kids are adjusting," Gingrich said. "And where they got it from – who cares? It's a nice gesture on Senator Kennedy's part to give it to them but who cares?" Gingrich added.

For the record, CNN says feelings about the first dog appear to be splitting across party lines, since prominent Democratic strategist Donna Brazile called Bo Obama "cute" and "adorable." 

"What's not to like about this dog?" she asked on CNN's "State of the Union."

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Gingrich laughs during a taping of NBC's "Meet the Press" March 8. Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

It's official: Obamas welcome new first dog, Bo the Portuguese water dog

Malia Obama walks with Bo, followed by President Obama, Sasha and First Lady Michelle Obama on the White House's South Lawn.

Perhaps the most highly anticipated arrival at the White House since President Obama himself is Bo, the newly anointed first dog, who debuted to a crowd of media onlookers today. 

"He's got star quality," the president said of Bo, a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog who's lived in four homes already in his short life. The Associated Press has the details:

He was born in Texas, then moved to his first owner's home in Washington, D.C., then spent nearly a month with Sen. Edward Kennedy's dog trainer in Virginia, and now is moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. ...

Bo was given up by his first owner because things weren't working out with the family's other dog. Kennedy and his wife,Victoria, who had two Portuguese water dogs from Bo's breeder and acquired a third from Bo's litter, thought Bo would be perfect for the Obamas, and gave the dog to the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, as a gift, the dog's breeder and a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama said.

Rumors of the first dog's imminent arrival reached a fever pitch last week, with hints coming from Washington insiders suggesting that the pup had already been chosen, that it was a male Portuguese water dog, that he'd been enrolled in obedience training while the president traveled overseas. 

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Fear not, animal activists: Obamas' dog Bo is already neutered

Bo, the First Dog, as a six-and-a-half-week-old puppy When news broke of the Obamas' newest family member, Bo the Portuguese water dog, some in the animal rights and animal welfare communities were dismayed to learn that the pup came from a breeder rather than a shelter or rescue group. Although the Obamas didn't buy Bo from his breeder (he was purchased as a puppy by a family who later returned him), the strictest definition of "rescue dog" clearly doesn't apply. 

PETA's Ingrid Newkirk, in a letter to the president, writes that she finds it "disquieting that your decision to get a 'purebred' dog from a breeder will inspire others to do the same and that the subtlety of acquiring a dog who had a home but originally came from a breeding kennel may be lost on most people," but she notes that the group is gratified with the First Family's plan to make a donation to the Washington Humane Society.

Newkirk further urges Obama to have Bo neutered, quipping, "[s]ex in the White House has been the topic of past scandals, but with a simple 'snip,' the first dog can set a new tone and a great example."

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WebClawer: Cesar Millan's advice to the Obamas, Puppy Bowl announcer Harry Kalas dies, U.K. cat chooses vegetarian diet

Cesar Millan at Dog Whisperer headquarters From Bo the First Dog to an unusual U.K. cat, animals are making headlines all over the world today.  These are a few of the stories that grabbed our attention:

-- Dog Whisperer (and new U.S. citizen) Cesar Millan has some words of wisdom for the Obama family as they get settled with their new Portuguese water dog puppy, Bo.  "The best piece of advice I can give the Obama family is wisdom passed down from my grandfather: Never work against Mother Nature," Millan said. "Fulfill your dog's inborn needs -- exercise, discipline, affection, in that order -- and you will have the foundation for a balanced human-canine relationship."  Millan also singled out Malia Obama, saying he was "impressed to hear [she] had done her research in advance."  (People Pets)

-- Sportscaster Harry Kalas died today at age 73.  Kalas was undoubtedly best known as the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies; he also narrated NFL films and radio broadcasts.  But animal lovers may be more familiar with his work on another "sporting" event: Animal Planet's annual Puppy Bowl.  "Players come and go, but 'Outta here!' -- that's forever," said Scott Franzke, a Phillies radio broadcaster.  (L.A. Times)

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