Thursday, April 16, 2009

A royal welcome for first dog Bo at White House

President Obama joins daughters Malia, left, and Sasha as they take Bo for a walk on the South Lawn.

Here's the headline: Bo Outdraws the Queen!

The Obama family's Here's Bo show was a smashing success Tuesday, attracting such frantic media attention that the bushy-haired 6-month-old puppy threatened to upstage President Obama himself.

The Obamas' new dog, Bo, is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog. "He's got star quality," President Obama said.

Not that the president seemed to mind, as he dashed across the White House lawn behind a leashed, galloping Bo.

Obama, who spent the morning delivering a speech on the economy, by late afternoon was acting as excited as his daughters, Malia and Sasha, and first lady Michelle Obama as the family introduced the black-and-white dog to a herd of photographers.

One of the Obama girls called Bo perfect.

"He's a star — he's got star quality," the president declared.

The White House press corps, greatly expanded for the big unveiling, was even more pleased, their camera shutters firing madly as the family gamboled with the dog on a drizzly afternoon.

Bo may have even outdrawn the queen — Queen Elizabeth II, that is, who got a big media welcome on the White House lawn when she visited President Bush in 2007. Even Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, at his daily briefing, had to fend off questions about Bo. "I don't know what I'm supposed to tell you about the dog," he said at one point.

"There's more press scrambling for position than for serious events," reported CNN's Ed Henry to anchor Wolf Blitzer, who interviewed "dog whisperer" Cesar Millan live on how best to handle a Portuguese water dog like Bo.

For about 15 minutes, the Obamas petted, hugged and cooed at Bo, who wagged his tail-with-a-pom-pom and ran hither and yon on a leash held tightly by Michelle. "That's a good-looking dog," the president said, explaining that Porties like tomatoes, so his wife's new kitchen garden might be in danger.

"He doesn't know how to swim," Sasha exclaimed. "We have to teach him," Obama said. "They have webbed feet, you know, for herding fish for the Portuguese fishermen."

Other Bo bits learned from the president: Bo is neutered, the president will take his turn walking him, and there will be limits on where he sleeps.

"Not in my bed," the president said.


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