- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009

The First Family-elect is inching closer to finding the First Dog.

It’s the nation’s most hotly anticipated pet search, as President-elect Barack Obama seeks to fulfill a key campaign promise to his daughters Malia and Sasha.

Egged on by the girls, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Mr. Obama about the White House pup during an interview taped Saturday in the network’s studio in the Newseum and broadcast Sunday.

“I got to tell you, you know, they’re out touring the museum right now; I heard they were taken straight to the first dog exhibit, and while you were getting made up, they went into the control room and played director and producer,” said Mr. Stephanopoulos, host of “This Week.” “They actually gave me a question they want me to ask you. You know exactly what it’s going to be.”

“Uh-oh. Go ahead,” the president-elect replied.

“What kind of a dog are we getting and when are we getting it?” Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

Mr. Obama, who has said previously that the family wanted a rescue dog but also needs a hypoallergenic puppy because of Malia’s allergies, said the Obamas have narrowed their choices to two medium-sized breeds - a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound.

“So, we’re now going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those dogs might come up,” Mr. Obama said, adding: “We’re closing in on it. This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary.”

Mr. Obama said last month the family probably will wait until the spring to bring the dog to the White House.

Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. got his own new puppy last month, naming him “Champ,” his father’s nickname for him as he was growing up, a name he often talked about on the campaign trail.

Mr. Obama also said he and his wife are attempting to find the right church to join in Washington without causing a major disruption.

Mr. Obama, who already has been seen out and about in the District with visits Saturday to Ben’s Chili Bowl and the Lincoln Memorial, said he wants to unite the fractured city.

“One of the things that I don’t like historically about Washington is the way that you’ve got one part of Washington, which is a company town, all about government, and is generally pretty prosperous,” he said. “Then, you’ve got another half of D.C. that is going through enormous challenges. I want to see if we can bring those two Washington, D.C.’s together.”

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