September 11, 2015 | Posted in 1st Doggies


© Luis Barrios |

Bo, the Portuguese water dog, is the current first dog(2013) of America. When the Obamas chose a dog of this particular breed, it put to end months of speculation on what kind of dog would America’s first family opt for.

Doubtless, the choice of a Portuguese water dog is a little off the beaten track; he’s not a lab, collie, or retriever. At present there are around fifty thousand dogs of this breed in America. That makes Bo both exotic and also a little rare. The choice of breed was partially dictated by the fact that Obama’s elder daughter Malia is sensitive to fur and the Portuguese water dogs are hypoallergenic.

Bo arrived in this world on October 9th, 2008. Things didn’t quite work out between Bo and his first owners who returned him to the breeders; the Stern family of Boyd, Texas.  He became a part of the Kennedy family on April 14th, 2009; but not before undergoing some obedience training with reputed trainers in Virginia. Bo arrived as a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy. The president’s daughters rechristened him Bo from his earlier name Charlie. The name is in remembrance of singer Bo Diddley.

First dogs have never failed to help their pet parents score valuable brownie points with the populace and Bo does so with aplomb. The Obama family had made it clear that they would adopt a pet dog instead of buying one and also, in keeping with conventional pet care wisdom, Bo is a neutered animal.

Within days of his arrival at the White House, Bo had made himself at home and President Obama made it known in an interview that Bo would be allowed inside the Oval Office. In June 2009, Bo featured on a baseball card, presenting a smart visage on one side with the other side carrying nuggets of information on Bo. It seems the First Dog does not know how to swim, which is a bit of an abomination for a retriever breed that has for hundreds of years served fishermen and sailors by herding fish into their nets and carrying messages between boats and ships. And Bo loves to gorge on tomatoes. Although details on what Bo eats are scanty, it is known that he’s been put on a diet since 2012; a sign that he could have been enjoying tidbits on the sly from indulgent White House staff.

Bo is as media savvy as you’d expect a presidential dog to be. In fact, he loves to interact with the media just as much as he enjoys long walks on the White House lawns. He has made an appearance on the show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The black-haired Bo sports a splash of white on the chest and paws and presents as striking a picture as any dog to have lived in the White House.

Recently as of this article Bo got a partner to play with. Michelle Obama tweeted on 19th August of the arrival of Sunny; a female Portuguese Water Dog.