WASHINGTON – First pooch Bo got star treatment and his first backyard romp at the White House on Tuesday — and even presidential clearance to visit the Oval Office. But he better not get any inflated ideas about doggy sleeping arrangements. "Not in my bed," declared Barack Obama.
The nation got its long-awaited first look at Bo in action as the Obamas showed off the family's new dog on the South Lawn. First lady Michelle Obama did most of the walking while the 6-month-old Portuguese water dog scampered about. Then daughter Malia took a turn, and Bo took off running.
Despite the name of the dog's breed, daughter Sasha pointed out to reporters, "He doesn't know how to swim."
"Yeah, apparently they have to be taught how to swim," Obama added.
The girls grinned as they played with Bo. The wet lawn, chilly air and gray sky didn't put a damper on Bo's debut.
Sasha clapped her hands at one point, calling for the dog's attention. Bo wagged his tail as each of the Obamas bent down to pet him.
Plainly pleased, the president said: "He's a star. He's got star quality."
Obama had promised his daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, a puppy during the presidential campaign. The dog finally arrived Tuesday after the girls came home from school.
The commander in chief laid down some guidelines.
Each family member is going to have to help out, Obama said. "We all have to take turns walking the dog."
Asked by a reporter where the dog would sleep, the president said Bo would have his own spot. A bed? "Not in my bed," Obama said.
The president had a word of warning for the first lady. He said he had heard the breed likes tomatoes, so "Michelle's garden is in danger."
The White House will be the puppy's fourth home. He was born in Texas, then moved to his first owner's home in Washington, D.C., then spent nearly a month with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's dog trainer in Virginia, and now is moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Bo was given up by his first owner because things weren't working out with the family's other dog. Kennedy and his wife, Victoria, who had two Portuguese water dogs from Bo's breeder and acquired a third from Bo's litter, thought Bo would be perfect for the Obamas and gave the dog to Malia and Sasha as a gift, the dog's breeder and a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama said.
At 6 months, Bo is still a "goofy puppy" and, like many Portuguese water dogs, may still be that way up to age 2 or even 4, said Stu Freeman, president of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. "A puppy is a puppy and these are very active puppies," he said.
The pup is mostly black, but he has white fur on his chest and front feet. The dog's non-shedding coat also makes him a good pick for the family, given Malia's allergies.
After a reporter reminded him of President Harry S. Truman's line, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog," Obama joked, "I finally got a friend."