Bo (October 9, 2008 – May 8, 2021) was a pet dog of the Obama family, the first family of the United States from 2009 until 2017. President Barack Obama and his family were given the male Portuguese Water Dog as a gift after months of speculation about the breed and identity of their future pet. The final choice was made in part because elder daughter Malia's allergies dictated a need for a hypoallergenic breed. Bo was occasionally called "First Dog". In August 2013, Bo was joined by Sunny, a female dog of the same breed.
|Other name(s)||First Dog of the United States|
Charlie (by previous owner)
|Breed||Portuguese Water Dog|
|Born||Amigo's New Hope|
October 9, 2008
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||May 8, 2021 (aged 12)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Known for||Pet of the Obama family|
|Training||Dawn Sylvia (Hume, Virginia)|
Can sit, present paw/shake, lie down, roll over, get off, wait
|Term||April 14, 2009 – January 20, 2017|
|Successor||Champ and Major|
(Amigo's Phor What Its Worth)
(Valkyrie's Dr. Watson Is Here)
Breeder: Julie Parker
|Appearance||Tuxedo/black and white|
|Named after||Obama girls' cousins' pet cat|
and Bo Diddley
The Portuguese Water Dog is originally from the Algarve region of Portugal. Only 48 Portuguese Water Dogs were entered for Britain's Crufts competition in the year 2009 and the author of The New Complete Portuguese Water Dog, Kitty Braund, believes there are about 50,000 in North America. Due to its fleecy coat of minimally shedding hair, the Portuguese Water Dog is considered a hypoallergenic dog breed.
Breeding and original ownersEdit
Bred by Martha and Art Stern of Amigo Portuguese Water Dogs in Boyd, Texas, Bo was a son of Watson—of the Rader family in Pittsburgh's Ambridge suburb—and Penny, belonging to Art and Martha Stern. One of Bo's nine litter mates was Senator Ted Kennedy's dog named Cappy (Amigo's Captain Courageous); the litter was named "Hope and Change", in honor of Obama's victory.
Bo's original buyer is unknown, but eventually they returned him to the Stern family; purchasing Bo required signing a contract to return him to his breeder if things did not work out. Bo enrolled with Kennedy's obedience trainer Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz in Hume, Virginia on January 5, 2009.
Selection of the dogEdit
At his first press conference as President-elect, Obama was questioned by reporters as to which breed the family was looking to acquire; he replied, "We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So—so whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."
George Stephanopoulos asked Obama on television in early January what kind of dog they would get, and when, saying that he was passing on a question from Obama's daughters who were sitting in the control room. Obama said "They seem to have narrowed it down to a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound ... medium-sized dog, and so, we're now going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those dogs might come up." Much was made by the public and press about the family's search for a dog. On April 12, 2009, it was announced that the Obamas would soon accept a six-month-old Portuguese Water Dog puppy as a gift from Senator Kennedy. The dog was reported to have visited the family some weeks earlier in a secret meeting to gauge compatibility and purportedly referred to by staffers as "The Meeting". However, the gift was not accepted until the dog officially arrived and moved in at the White House on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. Immediately after he arrived, the family staged a photo op with Bo on the property's South Lawn. At the conference, Obama was asked if he would allow Bo inside the Oval Office, to which he responded: "of course." He also gave a nod to President Harry Truman's quote "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." The White House website was later updated to include official pictures and biographical details of Bo.
Listed by the name "Amigo's New Hope" with American Kennel Club's breed registry and given the name "Charlie" by his original owners, the puppy received his name from President Obama's two daughters, Malia and Sasha, in part after their cousins' cat and Michelle Obama's father's nickname Diddley; the dog is a namesake of singer Bo Diddley.
In June 2009, the White House released a baseball card for Bo with his new official portrait on one side and tongue-in-cheek statistics on the other; information included the facts that Bo's favorite food is tomatoes and that he does not yet know how to swim. The card was available by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the White House.
According to financial disclosure forms released by President Obama in 2010, Bo was purchased for $1,600 (equivalent to $1,990 in 2021).
As of August 2012, Bo was on a diet, though no other details were released (it was announced by the President during the Kids' State Dinner, where children from the states and territories who had won a contest to design healthy, appealing meals had lunch at the White House).
The Obamas originally voiced a strong desire to adopt a shelter dog, but made no firm commitments. In Summer 2008, Best Friends Animal Society, an animal welfare organization, gathered 50,000 signatures on a petition asking the family to adopt a shelter animal.
As Bo was a gift through a breeder, he was not a shelter dog. Dog expert César Millán stated Bo could be considered part of a larger group known as "rescue dogs". He was unsuccessful in his first home when plans for him to provide companionship to an older female dog went awry; apparently his attempts to suckle irritated her. The Obamas pledged a donation to the DC Humane Society in a show of support for shelter dogs.
Reactions by and in the mediaEdit
The Washington Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia, granted exclusive initial access to Bo for the print media, described the puppy: "Bo's a handsome little guy. Well suited for formal occasions at the White House, he's got tuxedo-black fur, with a white chest, white paws and a rakish white goatee."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) described the family's choice to accept the gift of a puppy from a family friend as "disquieting" and publicly urged Obama to have Bo neutered, despite the fact that the dog had been neutered before the Obamas received him.
In anticipation of increased interest in the breed, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America issued a statement requesting that members of the public considering obtaining the dogs "ensure that this breed fits their lifestyle", advising that the dogs' needs preclude their being left alone for long periods or boarded in kennels.
In the final episode of the History Channel's Life After People, aired March 16, 2010, the producers imagined what life would be like for Bo after the disappearance of humanity. This program speculated that he would leave the White House, and live off seafood from the Chesapeake Bay.
Bo appeared in the comic book Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers and on the television shows Late Night with Seth Meyers and Ellen. On Meyers' show, Bo was the subject of a "Barney Cam" parody in which he is shown to be shamelessly manipulating White House staffers and guests (such as by finding and planting classified information in the bag of speechwriter who refused to give him treats).
On January 8, 2016, a man named Scott Stockert from Dickinson, North Dakota was arrested for allegedly trying to kidnap Bo after United States Secret Service Agents discovered a 12 gauge pump action shotgun and a bolt action .22 caliber rifle on the back of his pickup truck.
- Dave, By (April 20, 2009). "Vigilant press spots Bo, the first dog, out for a walk". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
- "The White House—Blog Post—Meet Bo, the First Dog". White House. April 12, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- Cooper, Helen (April 12, 2009). "One Obama Search Ends With a Puppy Named Bo". The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2009.
Other Web sites, which have been tracking the saga of the selection of the first dog, were in a frenzy over the weekend.
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- Roig-Franzia, Manuel (April 12, 2009). "The First Puppy Makes a Big Splash". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
- Theimer, Sharon (April 26, 2009). "PROMISES, PROMISES: Is Obama dog a rescue or not?". Associated Press.
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- Iovino, Jim. "First Dog Bo's Portrait Out as Baseball Card". NBC Washington. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- Lee, Jess (June 19, 2009). "The White House—Blog Post—Bo: The Portrait, the Baseball Card". White House. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- Conolly, Katie. "The Gaggle : Official Portrait of First Dog Bo Released". Newsweek. Archived from the original on August 25, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- Marr, Kendra (May 17, 2010). "Hot dog: $1,600 Bo listed on disclosure forms". The Politico. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
- "Latest News, Videos & Guest Interviews from the Today Show on NBC". TODAY.com. Archived from the original on December 11, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
- Greene, Nick (April 15, 2009). "Obama's criticized for breaking promise of adopting dog from shelter". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
- "Obama's will adopt, rather than buy, a dog". San Jose Mercury News. May 11, 2008. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Visitant, Carol (April 16, 2009). "5 Things You Don't Know About First Dog Bo—Barack Obama". People. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
- "Obama puppy: Portuguese water dog Bo is Obama puppy". The Baltimore Sun. April 13, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009.[dead link]
- "The HSUS Congratulates First Family on New White House Dog". Humane Society of the United States. April 12, 2009. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- "Obama Dog Bo Diddley Obama Puppy First Dog Photos Video at The Insider". Theinsider.com. Archived from the original on May 23, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- Hess, Amanda (April 13, 2009). "PETA Encourages Obamas to Neuter Neutered Dog". nbcwashington.com. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
- Bedard, Paul (April 13, 2009). "PETA urges Obama to snip Bo the first dog". USNews.com. Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
- "Obama Family's Choice for 'First Dog' Prompts PWDCA to Remind Public About Responsible Breeding and Dog Ownership" (PDF). The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc. April 13, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 23, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
- Irvine, Chris (April 16, 2009). "Bo Obama to star in children's book". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on April 19, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
- Kondo, Koji (April 2009). Bo Obama: First Dog of the United States of America. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-4421-5644-9.
- Lewis, J. Patrick; Beth Zappitello; Tim Bowers (April 2009). First Dog. Sleeping Bear Press. ISBN 978-1-58536-467-1.
- Greenman, Ben (July 16, 2009). "The First Hundred (Dog) Days". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
- "Take Me to Your Leader". History. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
The President's dog must learn the ways of the wild.
- Bo Obama's anniversary: First year as First Dog, The Washington Post, April 15, 2010
- Dogs 101 Ep. 10, All the presidents' Pets,
- Dogs 101 ep. 14, Bernese Mountain Dog, Afghan, Portuguese Water Dog, Cairn Terrier, Alaskan Malamute
- Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Seth Puts A Camera On Obama's Dog Bo". YouTube.
- Bungey, Sam (August 6, 2009). "First Family Arrival Date Set at August 23". Vineyard Gazette. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
- Leonard, Tom (August 23, 2009). "Barack Obama arrives in Martha's Vineyard with family". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
- Bondar, Daniella (August 16, 2018). "Donald Trump Reportedly Hates Dogs, So That Might Explain A Few Things". Elite Daily. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
- "Man Arrested for Plot to Kidnap the Obamas' Dog". time.com. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
- Pasquini, Maria (May 8, 2021). "Michelle and Barack Obama Mourn the Death of Beloved Dog Bo". People. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
- Wang, Amy (May 8, 2021). "Obamas announce death of dog Bo, 'a true friend and loyal companion'". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 8, 2021.