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— Responsible Breeders Part of a Long Tradition of Presidential Pets —

Yesterday, America finally got their first peek at the Obama family settling in with their new AKC-Registered Portuguese Water Dog, Amigo’s New Hope, affectionately known as “Bo.” Since the first mention of a potential “first” dog many months ago, the Obamas have taken the time to research the right breed for their family, to learn how to be responsible dog owners and to obtain a dog through a reputable breeder who is a member of the AKC parent club, The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America.

So far, the Obama family is setting a wonderful example for the American public. But Bo’s path to the White House also perfectly illustrates the actions of reputable breeders. Art and Martha Stern of Boyd, Texas have represented breeders well throughout the blitz of media coverage. They have reported that Bo spent a few months in another DC area home where the older PWD did not appreciate his presence. Thus the Sterns welcomed the pup back to their kennel and rehomed the literal “lucky dog” with the Obamas. Martha Stern told the blog “…the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, that we belong to, requires that their breeders take back their dogs if for any reason, any reason at all, the people can’t care for the dog. That’s what responsible breeders do, always.”

Well said, Martha. But now that Bo has finally arrived, the public can still learn a lot more about responsible dog ownership from the Obamas’ experience. They are not only a First Family but also first-time dog owners with the eyes of the world upon them and they need to prepare Bo for his high-profile life in Washington with plenty of training.

Many PWD experts predict that this lively dog will head straight for Michelle’s organic vegetable garden for a snack or to the South Lawn fountain for some water games as he most likely won’t be doing the breed’s historical job of retrieving broken nets for fisherman, diving for fish and swimming messages between ships. As an athletic and energetic working breed, he will need vigorous exercise everyday, and like all puppies, training and socialization. A good start includes enrolling their new pup in AKC’s S.T.A.R. Puppy Program. This new program is designed to get owners and their puppies off to a good start in life by teaching basic training skills and providing puppy-raising information.

After all, he has big paw prints to fill. He will be the latest in a long line of AKC-Registered presidential pets — from the most recent White House residents Barney and Miss Beazley to FDR’s Fala, all Scottish Terriers. Other AKC-Registered first dogs include Clinton’s Chocolate Lab Buddy, Ford’s Golden Retriever Liberty, Reagan’s Bouvier Des Flanders Lucky, Bush’s English Springer Spaniel Millie (and Millie’s daughter Spot) as well as Nixon’s Cocker Spaniel Checkers and Eisenhower’s Weimaraner Heidi, among others.

The AKC wishes the Obamas and Bo the best of luck in their new life together at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We’d be happy to host Sasha and Malia here at the AKC as they transfer Bo’s papers into their name as his proud new owners and we look forward to welcoming the entire family into the wonderful world of pet ownership.

For continued coverage of the First Dog, please visit


Ron Menaker