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Obamas Introduce Bo, Their Portuguese Water Dog, to the World

The furry addition to the first family fulfilled President Obama's campaign promise to his daughters. The Portuguese water dog has been learning his way around the grounds at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. since his arrival in April 2009.

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By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Bo Era beginneth.

Or, at least, it seemed almost that consequential today, judging from the overflow crowd of reporters and photographers who swarmed onto the White House South Lawn for a glimpse of the new first puppy.

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On this chilly, overcast day, the frisky Portuguese water dog upstaged even the president and first lady.

"Bo Obama!" a reporter called out. "Are you hypoallergenic?"

Bo, only 6 months old but already savvy to the ways of Washington, made no comment. But the first kids, not to mention the tall guy in the blue suit, spoke up for him.

"I love him," Malia Obama, 10, said as Bo nuzzled her leg. "He's perfect."

Seven-year-old Sasha, punctuating her words with a little hop, declared, "He doesn't know how to swim!"

Dad, also known as President Obama, added that Porties "have webbed feet."

Bo was a gift from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and his wife, Victoria. The Kennedys sent over gifts today for Sasha and Malia: the book "My Senator and Me," authored by, ahem, their Portie Splash; chew toys for Bo; a book on training Porties; and a collar and leash set emblazoned with the message, "I {heart} Obama."

Even across town at the Department of Transportation, Secretary Ray LaHood was trying to get in on the Bo Show. On his official blog, he wrote that DOT staffer Janet Forsgren is the owner of Bo's maternal grandmother, Pooka.

Nothing about the arrival of the first puppy has been too trivial for inquiring minds. So the first family strolled along a rope line, the better to field questions.

Much was learned.

Malia announced that Bo has already had a "sleepover with his brother," presumably one of his littermates.

He will not, and the president left no doubt about this, be bedding down in the presidential bedroom. Asked where Bo would sleep, Obama replied, "Not with me."

But this is the White House press corps, so they dug deeper, each question broadening the president's smile. He went on to reveal that Bo won't sleep in the girls' rooms, either, and that he has his own designated sleeping spot.

Dog-walking duties, the president said, would be a family affair.

"We all have to take turns walking the dog," Obama said.

Their first public walk got a little loony when someone in the crowd of reporters yelled out that the Obamas were invited to bring Bo to her lake house. The president had nothing to say to that -- what could he say, really? Soon thereafter, he steered the family away from the press corps.

Bo led the way, jumping and sprinting, with Michelle Obama firmly gripping the leash. Apparently, the White House lawn has many irresistible scents. The little guy found much to sniff, and Malia took advantage of these moments to administer more hugs.

Sasha skipped along behind her, down the sloping lawn, and the whole family disappeared behind a landscaped mound. Silence fell over the reporters. But no one budged.

About 10 minutes later the first family emerged again, racing up the hill, with the president doing a nifty maneuver to switch the leash from one hand to the other to avoid tripping over it.

Camera shutters clicked at hyper-speed once again, and the first family swept through a back door past the assembled journalists, two of whom nearly came to blows a few minutes later in the press room over the pushing and shoving they'd engaged in along the rope line.

A White House aide smirked as the reporters filed back to their cramped quarters: "What a circus."


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