- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 19, 2009

Oh, the dogma, the dogged determination, the doggerel of it all.

It is official. Bo Obama has now taken over the White House, walking in the monumental paw prints of all the other first dogs who came before him — Barney, Buddy, Millie, Grits, Fala.

It is the Dawn of the Bo Era. He is black and white and read all over. More than 5,000 news stories have proclaimed that this Portuguese water dog is the dog du jour.

Imagine life for Bo as reporters lope alongside him, hoping for a scoop of the journalistic kind:

“Sir, sir? Do you have a comment about life in the White House?”

Bo hesitates, head cocked with thoughtful assurance.

“Woof. Woof.”

An incredible sound bite. A dozen TV stand-ups that day recount the fact that, indeed, Bo Obama said “woof, woof” and declined comment on foreign policy. The kibble lobby could not be reached for reaction. News organizations eagerly speculate on his future.

Bo Obama has not declared his candidacy for 2012. Yet. He may consider an endorsement contract with Alpo, and possibly Wheaties. He is Bo’bama to insiders, Bobaba-yeah in a new rap song, and Baddabing-baddaBo in New Jersey.

He is plain “Oh, you bad dog” to Michelle Obama, and FIDOTUS to the White House press office — First Dog of the United States, with special “Fido” pun advisory included for journalists to discover and take credit for, now that they have exhausted every other dog-related double-entendre.

The Secret Service, no doubt, will code name Bo as WOOF1.

Yes, just imagine. Such stories are coming. The press is Bo-crazed.

But enough. Things could be worse. Let us examine the real FIDOTUS — our very own Bo, and what we know.

Bo is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog, a smart and agreeable breed known as a robust working dog with webbed toes who can swim all day and dive for fish. Bo’s real name is Amigo’s New Hope, according to Tom and Marilyn Stern, his Texas-based breeders.

His curly, waterproof coat will not provoke the allergies of adorable Obama daughter Malia; he could grow to weigh 60 pounds and stand 22 inches at the shoulder, according to breed standards. He will need grooming, and a poodle-esque clip in “retriever” or “lion” style.

Bo is also a born Democrat.

Sen. Ted Kennedy is his uncle — or maybe his senior adviser. The Massachusetts Democrat owns Cappy, a Portuguese water dog from the exact same litter as Bo; the lawmaker brokered the diplomatic connection ‘twixt dog and Obama family.

“Is Bo Bama a left winger?” asked Fox News host Bill O’Reilly recently.

Really. He said that. Meanwhile, there have been delicate discussions over whether Bo has been, a-hem, neutered. He has.

Life for Bo is already plenty complicated, and fraught with innuendo.

His White House debut this week drew global coverage from a press transfixed with the idea that POTUS and FIDOTUS could frolic together. The serious journalists at ABC News and the Associated Press breathlessly wondered whether Mr. Obama had reneged on a campaign promise by choosing a purebred rather than a nice, politically correct, populist pound puppy.

“Behold, your press corps at work,” observed Media Matters analyst Eric Boehlert.

There was grumbling from animal rights activists and a few humane societies, the case argued in several serious accounts that probed Bo’s pedigree and his possible status as a “second chance dog” who was returned to the breeder from some anonymous family.

The American Kennel Society congratulated the Obama family on their choice of breed, then issued a caution.

“This breed possesses a lot of energy, so without training or a job to do, the dog may entertain itself by running full-speed down the West Wing or barking at Republicans,” said Mary Burch, who manages the group’s obedience training outreach.

“That type of behavior may not make the best impression on visiting dignitaries, so we recommend that the Obamas enroll Bo in an obedience class,” she added.

The dog has now been anointed as a presidential dog, though. His arrival at the White House signals that Portuguese water dogs will soon become the dog of choice, rising from the 64th most popular dog on the American dog popularity list to — what — a tony No. 1? That’s what happened to dalmatians and chihuahuas, their appeal fueled, respectively, by Disney movies and Taco Bell ads.

“We see faddism when it comes to pet-keeping in the movies, and we may see that scenario play out in the case with the first family’s selection of a Portuguese water dog,” warned Wayne Pacelle, president of the U.S. Humane Society.

Perhaps the Obamas should have chosen a komondor. Or a Shih Tzu.

But then, like everything else in Washington, when all the hubbub dies down, it all comes down to character, not prattle and spin or whining and speculation.

Can a Portuguese water dog find true happiness in Washington? Judging from the American Kennel Club’s summary description of the breed, Bo will not only find happiness inside the Beltway, he may just teach us all a lesson:

“An animal of spirited disposition, self-willed, brave, and very resistant to fatigue. A dog of exceptional intelligence and a loyal companion, it obeys its master with facility and apparent pleasure. It is obedient with those who look after it or with those for whom it works.”

Go for it, Bo. Good boy. And we’ll look for you on the ballot in 2012.

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