April 12, 2009 in Nation/World

Web site reveals first family’s dog

Bo’s official unveiling upstaged on Internet
Manuel Roig-Franzia Washington Post
 
White House photo by Pete Souza photo

The identity of the first puppy, a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog, leaked out Saturday. White House photo by Pete Souza
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – Who let the dog out?

That’s the Washington mystery du jour.

The identity of the first puppy – the one that the Washington press corps has been yelping about for months, the one President Barack Obama has seemed to delight in dropping hints about – leaked out Saturday. This despite White House efforts to delay the news until the big debut planned Tuesday.

The little guy is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog given to the Obama girls as a gift by that Portuguese water dog-loving senator himself, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Malia and Sasha named it Bo; their cousins have a cat named Bo and first lady Michelle Obama’s father was nicknamed Diddley, a source said.

Bo has tuxedo-black fur, a white chest, white paws and a rakish white goatee.

Clearly, the identity of the dog was information too big to contain. A Web site called FirstDogCharlie.com published a puppy picture Saturday morning, complete with a Q-and-A with the dog, which it said was originally named Charlie. The celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com linked to the picture. So much for the big White House unveiling.

Still, there’s lots of stuff that didn’t leak out, including a secret get-acquainted session with the family at the White House a few weeks ago. The visit, known around the White House as “The Meeting,” was a surprise for the girls. Bo wore a lei.

Bo charmed the first family, a source who was there said. He sat when the girls sat, stood when the girls stood. He made no toileting errors and did not gnaw on the furniture. Bo has been receiving lessons in good behavior from the Kennedys’ dog trainers.

Bo already has a keen sense of who’s in charge. When the president walked across the room, Bo followed obediently.

The choice of a Portie raised one complication: The Obamas have long said they wanted a rescue dog. But the carefully bred Porties almost never end up in shelters. Bo had been living with another family, but it wasn’t a good fit, so the Kennedys acquired him for the Obamas.

As for the rescue pledge, the Obamas came up with a solution intended to lend a serious symbolic note: They’re going to make a donation to the D.C. Humane Society.

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