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First Dog Bo's first White House Christmas

Ginger Bread First Dog Bo
When he first introduced First Dog Bo to the White House press corps, President Obama made mention of Harry Truman's oft-quoted line that if you want a friend in Washington, "get a dog."

So as critics assail Obama on numerous issues including Afghanistan and healthcare, the four-footed animal stirring in the White House is inspiring a lot of love this holiday season. Or at least he's getting a lot of attention.

White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, co-author of "Desserts for Dummies," worked the first puppy into his design for a gingerbread replica of the White House, which is on display at all the holiday parties this year. Bo's curly coat was made with dollops of chocolate.

And White House photographer Samantha Appleton took a photo of the Portuguese water dog in front of a Christmas Tree in the diplomatic room. Wearing a red bow, Bo sits expectantly as if to say, "I'm ready for the holidays. Where's everybody else?"

First Dog Bo

Here's another view of the confection dog and his house.

First Dog Bo as a decoration
Finally, the gingerbread White House and its creator.

Bo in front of White House Christmas decoration

 -- Johanna Neuman

Photo credits: 1. Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images; 2. Samantha Appleton / White House; 3. and 4. Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

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LOL! Chocolate, eh? I thought for sure it was those wikisticks / bendaroo things.

Our tax dollars at work.


Views regarding particular animals
Certain animals in Islamic traditions are mentioned or have a particular view attached to them:

Bats: In Shiite hadith, bats are praised as a miracle of nature.[16] In other Muslim literature, however, they represent danger.
Birds: Birds are commonly revered in Islamic literature, especially in Sufi tradition where they are a metaphor for the soul's divine journey to God, such as in The Conference of the Birds. In the Shi'a book of the sayings of Ali, Nahj al-Balagha, an entire sermon is dedicated to praising peacocks.[21]
Camels: Muhammad's camel, Qaswa, was very dear to him.[22] Muhammad is reported as having reprimanded some men who were sitting idly on their camels in a marketplace, saying "either ride them or leave them alone".[3][15]
Cats:Muhammad is said to have loved his cat Muezza[23] so much that "he would do without his cloak rather than disturb one that was sleeping on it."[22]
Dogs: see below.
Hyenas: In Muslim culture, they are considered ugly. Unusually, however, Striped Hyena meat is considered Halal (permissible) in places such as Sistan, Kohat, Bannu, and Cholistan, due to the fact that the animal is an omnivore, rather than a purely carnivorous animal.[24]
Sheep: Muhammad prided himself in being part of a rich tradition of prophets who found their means of livelihood as being shepherds.
Snakes: Snakes are considered to represent viciousness.[16]
[edit] Dogs
The majority of both Sunni and Shi'a Muslim jurists consider dogs to be ritually unclean, though jurists from the Sunni Maliki school disagree.[25] However, outside their ritual uncleanness, Islamic fatāwā, or rulings, enjoin that dogs be treated kindly or else be freed.[26]

Muslims generally cast dogs in a negative light because of their ritual impurity. The story of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus in the Qur'an (and also role of the dog in early Christianity) is one of the striking exceptions.[27] Muhammad didn't like dogs according to Sunni tradition, and most practicing Muslims do not have dogs as pets.[14] It is said that angels do not enter a house which contains a dog. Though dogs are not allowed for pets, they are allowed to be kept if used for work, such as guarding your house or farm, or when used for hunting purposes.

According to a generally unaccepted Sunni tradition attributed to Muhammad, black dogs are evil, or even devils, in animal form. This report reflects the pre-Islamic Arab mythology and the vast majority of Ulema (Muslim jurists) viewed it to be falsely attributed to Muhammad.[25]

Another Sunni tradition attributed to Muhammad commands Muslims not trade or deal in dogs.[28] According to El Fadl, this shows the cultural biases against dogs as a source of moral danger.[25] However, the Hanafi scholars, the largest school of ritual law in Sunni Islam, allow all trading in dogs.

According to one story, Muhammad is said to have informed a prostitute who had seen a thirsty dog hanging about a well and given it water to drink. Allah forgave her because of that good deed.[14][29]

In a tradition found in the Sunni hadith book, al-Muwatta, Muhammad states that the company of dogs voids a portion of a Muslim’s good deeds.[30]

Dogs, outside the ritual legal discourse, were often portrayed in the literature as a symbol of highly esteemed virtues such as self-sacrifice and loyalty or on the other hand as an oppressive instrument in the hands of despotic and unjust rulers.[25]

The historian William Montgomery Watt states that Muhammad's kindness to animals was remarkable for the social context of his upbringing. He cites an instance of Muhammed posting sentries to ensure that a female dog with newborn puppies was not disturbed by his army traveling to Mecca in the year 630.[31]

That's cute but it's expensive.

I'm glad to see that Bo still has job, since his master has put the unemployment rate above 10%!

Gingerbread White House. Wow.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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