When Barack Obama was elected president, he promised his daughters, Sasha and Malia, that he would finally get them a dog. In April of 2009, just a few months after his inauguration, he came through on that promise with the adoption of a Portuguese water dog.
Bo, just six months old when the Obamas brought him to the White House, was a gift from the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Bo had been originally adopted by another family (who named him Charlie), but it wasn’t a good match. Kennedy, a personal fan of the breed, saw this problem and thought the dog would be a good fit for the Obamas. One of the reasons the Obamas had waited so long to get a dog was because of Malia’s dog allergies, but Portuguese water dogs are hypoallergenic, making them an ideal breed for the First Family.
Bo has been a loyal pet to the Obamas. So loyal, in fact, that he released a campaign ad earlier this year, urging pet lovers to give their vote to his owner. This follows the lead of Barney, George W. Bush’s Scottish terrier, who released a video in 2004 to help Bush gain the “canine vote.”
While Bo is the first Portuguese water dog to serve as First Dog, he is certainly not the first presidential pet. Some of the more recent four-legged diplomats include George W. Bush’s two terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, Bill Clinton’s cat Socks and chocolate lab Buddy (who famously hated each other) and George Bush’s Springer Spaniel Millie.