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Obamas narrow their dog choice

From MSNBC and The Today Show:

Michelle Obama: Dog coming soon!
The family will be getting a new addition next month, first lady says

The whole world, it seems, wants to know: What kind of dog are the Obamas getting and, for goodness sake, when?

Speaking to PEOPLE at the White House recently, Michelle Obama leaned in and confided: “You’re getting some scoops here.”

So, when? In April, Mrs. Obama says – after she and the President take daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, on a vacation for spring break.

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 Portie is an active, intelligent dog.

The Portie is an active, intelligent dog.

And what kind of dog will soon be frolicking on the South Lawn? Mrs. Obama says the family is looking for a rescue Portuguese water dog who is “old enough” and a “match” for the family dynamic.

“Temperamentally they’re supposed to be pretty good,” she says of the breed that Sen. Ted Kennedy has also lobbied for (he has two Water dogs of his own). “From the size perspective, they’re sort of middle of the road – it’s not small, but it’s not a huge dog. And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them. So that’s where we’re leaning.”

The name game
The only thing still up in the air is the name. And Mom’s not feeling it with some of the names her girls have come up with.

“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.”

Asked if she can believe the public interest in her family dog search, Mrs. Obama shakes her head. “Okay, that’s surprising,” she says. “One of the things I didn’t anticipate is the level of the excitement about the dog. I knew my kids were excited. They’ve been excited for years. They’ve even calmed down, because they feel like, ‘They said we’re going to get one, so let’s just shut up about it.’ ”

Diplomatically, and careful not to insult enthusiastic dog-lovers, she adds: “It’s all great and gracious attention. People are just being as helpful as you can imagine. So I know that we will find the perfect breed. And we’ll find people who are caring folks who will help us find the dog of our dreams.”

So, there you have it. The family is looking for a rescued Portuguese Water Dog. That’s a good choice for a family where allergies are a concern.

I know a lot of people were hoping that the Obamas would choose a mixed breed dog but when you are trying to fill a special need — like finding a dog that is considered hypoallergenic — then it’s usually a good idea to look at dogs from breeds that are known to be good for those traits. It’s not impossible to find a mixed breed dog that an allergy-sufferer could live with, but you would have to search the dog out on a one-on-one basis. I imagine that the Obama girls might not even be able to visit shelters since allergies are an issue.

The same is true when it comes to choosing a purebred dog for many other purposes. Sometimes there’s a reason why they were bred in the first place and a reason why they continue to exist as a breed. I know sometimes I like to watch the Incredible Dog Challenge events on TV and I can’t help noticing that most of the dogs that do so well in the water events are Labs and other breeds bred for water retrieving. You think that’s a coincidence?

There are many great purebred dogs in rescues. I’m sure the Obamas will be able to find a wonderful dog for their family. But, come on, Michelle! Let the kids have fun naming the dog! What’s wrong with Moose or Frank???

February 25, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment