Let the Obama Kids Choose Their Own Dog
Dad may have won the presidency, but President elect Barack Obama’s children, 10-year old Malia and Sasha, who is 7, won too. In his election night acceptance speech in Chicago’s Grant Park, Obama said to his kids – and announced to the entire world - “You have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” Arguably the two girls faired better post election. The new President wins a long list of national problems now resting on his shoulders. The girls win a joyous bundle of fur to rest in their laps.
Both the President elect and future first lady Michelle Obama spoke in interviews on the campaign trail about the puppy possibility. And that discussion prompted campaigns by the American Kennel Club and various groups including the Humane Society of the United States and Best Friends Animal Society. They’ve lobbied for the Obama’s to rescue a shelter dog. The AKC is most interested in a pure bred in the White House.
Now that a puppy is imminent, the AKC, HSUS, Best Friends, and a bevy of well meaning but self-serving interests, have stirred themselves into an internet frenzy, all growling at one another and all hoping to wield influence in the White House. While the future first puppy – whoever that may be – remains to be chosen - the human condition has been on display.
So, without an agenda to support, I’d like to submit my honest thoughts about who that new First puppy may be.
Miniature Poodle: The Obama’s are populists, and may consider the opinions of the 42,000 people who voted in the AKC’s poll to determine the best breed. They have it right. The poodle appeal begins with their generally hypoallergenic coat, since Malia is allergic to canine dander. While Malia and Sasha aren’t toddlers, a Toy Poodle pup (under 10-inches in height as an adult) is very small and even fragile. What if a foreign ambassador accidently steps on the dog? An international crisis may ensue. Standard Poodles are under-rated dogs, assumed incorrectly to be ‘foo-foo’ when they’re actually able retrievers, but a lot of dog for two girls to handle (over 15-inches as adults). The mid-sized Miniature Poodle (10 to 15-inches and 13-16 lbs. as an adult) seems just right. They’re incredibly smart dogs, yet not nearly as driven as many of the herding breeds. A well-socialized Miniature Poodle is simply joyous, and the kind of dog which two young girls can play house with. Poodles do require regular grooming, But at the White House, someone is always on their way to the airport and can drop the pup at a groomer.
Boston Terrier: How about a flag waving All American dog – it might be nice to finally have something in the White House that’s really made in America. A mid-sized dog (15 to 25 lbs.), not too large to not fit into laps, but not so small to get lost in the White House. Boston’s are fun loving and entertaining dogs. If Malia, Sasha or even the President want to chase around the Cherry Blossoms in the yard, Boston’s can keep up. But if Malia and Sasha are hitting the books after school, Boston’s will entertain themselves. They’re sociable pups, and can help welcome foreign dignitaries. Besides how can it be bad for a Democratic President to have a dog named for a famously Democratic town?
Havanese: They have bouncy personalities, and another fine choice for family members with allergies. This dog isn’t so delicate that fun play running up and down the White House halls, tripping up the Secretary of State, is out of the question, and yet still small enough to fill a Presidential lap (7-14 lbs.). Many Americans who have found a safe haven here can relate, as these dogs were nearly exterminated during the Cuban revolution. Today, they’re making a comeback in a big way. Like the poodle, little additional vacuuming will be required by the White House staff.
Mutt: Talk about your photo op – Imagine Malia and Sasha at Chicago’s animal control facility (every municipality has what amounts to the city pound), and choosing a shelter pup. The message is an important one, there are lives which do need saving. And there’s nothing wrong with adopting a pound puppy. It may be difficult to find just the right choice in one visit (But I’m thinking any shelter put on notice will be happy to call the Obama family when a puppy matching their physical preferences and has a suitable temperament). Since Obama has called himself “a mutt,” adopting a mix of unknown lineage, a dog who’s mom is say a Terrier-mix and dad a Bichon-mix offers all sorts of subtle messages that the incoming First Family and melting pot we call America can relate to. I mention Terrier and Bichon because of the allergy issues; they’re generally lower on the sneezy scale. Often it’s hard to discern (though the availability of genetic testing is changing this) exactly what lineage shelter puppies have and therefore how big they will grow. This unpredictability can be exciting. And should they decide to adopt before Christmas, they will add to the goal of one million pets adopted as a part of Iams Home 4 the Holidays Pet Adoption campaign.
No matter what the Obama’s wind up with – a dog is a dog is a dog; or better yet, how about two dogs? Rescue a pure bred dog (choose your breed, they all have rescue groups), and also adopt from a shelter. Entertaining one another, maybe the pups won’t get into too much mischief.
No matter what they choose – my sincere hope is that the Obama’s are able to make this choice privately as a family.