- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 18, 2009


The Obamas have a new dog, Bo, which I assume people who are suffering from terminal cuteness with a touch of dyslexia will call Bo-ama.

Because nothing the Obamas do, no matter how innocent, can avoid controversy, concerned citizens with their underwear in a perpetual knot are asking snide questions. It falls to me today to express their concerns, which are more numerous than fleas.

In the first place, why did the Obamas choose a Portuguese water dog? This is a snub to American dogs, which have been chasing American cars (where available), barking at American postmen, making messes on American carpets and slobbering on American hands for many generations. It could not be a worse snub if the Obamas had chosen a French poodle or a Siamese cat.

But wait! This just in! Who’s his daddy? It turns out that Bo’s father is Watson, who lives in Ambridge - a typical blue-collar, all-American town not far from Pittsburgh and so close to where I live that he could swim down the Ohio River to fetch my paper. His mother, Penny, came from Texas, a place so patriotically American that you can be executed for not saying so.

Well, that’s all right, then; his credentials are secure. Cue a rendition of “Born in the U.S.A.” to keep the people in the cheap seats from becoming restive.

That said, is it fair to keep a dog that must yearn for its ancestral home? A friend of mine has a Bernese mountain dog, and a very fine animal it is, too. But sometimes I sense the dog is looking over my shoulder up toward Sewickley Heights, vainly hoping to catch a glimpse of the Alps.

I imagine Portuguese water dogs are also apt to become nostalgic, scanning ponds, hoping to see a body of Portuguese water, which, in truth, is not so different from American water except more corks float in it.

How will the Obamas keep Bo sufficiently supplied with Portuguese water? Will aides throw bottles of Mateus rose into the Potomac and let Bo dive in? If all else fails, will Bo be able to splash around when overheated Republicans are invited to the White House to be hosed down? We can only hope so.

Worse yet, the president earlier said his preferences for a dog included getting one from a shelter. That was a nice thought, which I appreciated as the owner of a rescued dog, Sooner, who has since repaid the favor many times over by personally rescuing any food left unguarded.

But there’s little danger Bo will be able to get into the White House kitchen and clean the plates before a state dinner. He never went to a shelter to learn naughty habits. He originally went to another family but was sent back to the breeder because he did not get along with the family’s older dog.

If all this were not suspicious enough, it turns out the chief dog procurer in the eventual arrangement was none other than Sen. Edward Kennedy, the dreaded hound of Hyannis Port.

Obviously, this was all political, and somewhere a little puppy is in a shelter, perhaps whimpering and putting his paws over his cute-as-a-button face because the lion of the Senate put the fix in to fill the position of first canine.

I know you are asking how the Obamas could be so cruel. What sort of a president goes back on his word to the shelter community in order to please his daughters? Of course, if you feel like this, you could adopt that little shelter dog yourself, but I do understand that would spoil the fun of complaining and making controversy where none exists. As it is, Bo was described by the Humane Society of the United States as a second-chance dog, which is a good thing, too.

With the Obamas, though, it is always possible to change course if the chosen dog of controversy doesn’t hunt.

Are we sure this dog wasn’t born in Kenya? If they have nothing to hide, the Obamas can easily produce the dog’s papers so they can be reviewed and declared suspect.

Also, is it true these dogs originally were bred to facilitate socialist shipping unions in Portugal? And weren’t they the favored dogs of Islamists, who knew them as Saudi sand dogs? This Bo-ama won’t be allowed to wag his tail until these questions are answered.

Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.

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