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Image: Bo Obama
Haraz N. Ghanbari  /  AP
Bo is settling in nicely with the Obamas, with his days beginning with a walk with the first lady, and ending in the evenings with a jaunt with the president.
updated 9/1/2009 7:17:22 AM ET 2009-09-01T11:17:22

He has torn through magazines and stray socks, even sunk his teeth into the president's gym shoes. Charm school taught him to sit, heel and shake a paw on command. He spent his first summer vacation on breezy Martha's Vineyard.

That's just a scoop of the poop on Bo's first few months as First Dog of the United States.

Most of his dog days begin with early morning walks on the grounds with Michelle Obama, and end with a nighttime jaunt with President Barack Obama, the couple juggling their four-legged family member in shifts the way the first lady says they once handled daughters Malia and Sasha.

In between, 10-month-old Bo has playtime with the girls, meals, puppy mischief — and lots of just lying around.

Obama says walks with the family's Portuguese Water Dog are a highlight of his pressure-packed days. It's perhaps a sign of just how high-stress they are that the president even gets sentimental about the less pleasant duties of dog ownership.

"I'm the guy with the night shift," he told one television interviewer. "We go out and we're walking and I'm picking up poop and in the background is the beautifully lit White House. It's quite a moment."

Questions fly
Obama's daughters had asked for a dog but were told to wait until after the presidential campaign. Obama told the girls on election night that they had "earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House." Slideshow: All the presidents’ pets

Immediately, it seemed everyone, everywhere, wanted information — and had an opinion. What kind of dog? When would it arrive? Would it be a shelter dog or a purebred? Would there be a message for society in the pick?

White House aides reported that the press office phones yielded far more calls breathlessly asking dog questions than about any other, weightier topic of the new presidency. Visiting Europe in early April, Obama even got a question about the dog at a forum he held in Strasbourg, France.

The Obamas quickly narrowed the range of canine choices to a Labradoodle or Portuguese Water Dog, two breeds unlikely to aggravate Malia's allergies. Obama had said he preferred to get a dog from a shelter — a mutt, essentially — but ended up disappointing animal advocates by choosing a breed rarely found in such places.

Finally, the furry black pup, splashed with white on his chest and front paws, made his debut a few days after Obama returned from the Europe trip. Bo came to the family by way of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and his wife, Vicki, who own three of the breed.

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Other than sheer excitement over Bo, it's hard to say what his selection has meant for his kind, besides increased awareness. Portuguese Water Dogs generally come from breeders and are not easily found in stores or shelters. That means there are no sales or adoption figures.

‘Star of the family’
In just these four-plus months, though, Bo has become one of the most popular dogs around.

He won a Teen Choice Award for celebrity pet, besting Adam Sandler's bulldog Matzo Ball and Ashton Kutcher's Chihuahua Vida Blue, among other candidates. Obama introduced him as the "star of the family" at a luau on the South Lawn.

"just met the presidents dog!! so cute," tennis star Andy Roddick gushed on his Twitter page after meeting Bo. Roddick visited the White House while in town to play in a tournament.

Image: Bo Obama
Alex Brandon  /  AP
Bo Obama walks away from Air Force One on his way back to the White House from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., after a vacation on Martha's Vineyard with the first family.
Last week, Bo accompanied the family on Air Force One to Martha's Vineyard, Mass., for summer vacation, creating a minor sensation when he wandered into the press cabin at the rear of the aircraft on each leg of the round trip. Malia rescued him the first time, an Obama aide the second.

To meet the demand for All Things Bo, the White House is distributing a Bo baseball card that reveals, among other things, that he can't swim and his goal is to become friends with foreign dignitaries. Anyone who writes to the dog (this happens, frequently) is sent one in return. Independent of the White House, there also are Bo stuffed animal toys, a story book and jigsaw puzzle.

Bo sports a blue leash that says "I (Heart) Obama."


Captivating the public
No dog is perfect, however, not even Bo.

He has torn up at least one magazine and gone after the president's gym shoes, the first lady told an interviewer. He also has been found with a sock, which he dropped and scampered away from with a "you-caught-me" look on his furry face.

Mrs. Obama said the family is good about closing the White House's many doors to limit Bo's access. She also has taken him for lessons at a training school in the city's Georgetown neighborhood. Video: The president gets tangled up in Bo's leash

Bo is just the latest and furriest in a long line of presidential pets to have captivated the public.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Scottish Terrier, Fala, was widely recognizable, his presence on a train platform a sign the president was nearby. The popularity of Gerald Ford's Golden Retriever, Liberty, soared after she gave birth to eight puppies.

Millie, the Springer Spaniel who belonged to George H.W. Bush, is the only "first pet" to ever write a book (as "dictated" to Barbara Bush), the proceeds going to literacy projects. She also appeared on the cover of Life magazine after having six puppies. George W. Bush's Scottish Terrier, Barney, had his own White House Web page, where the dog's-eye-view videos he shot from a camera mounted on his collar were posted.

Now enter Bo.

At least one dog trainer wishes the Obamas would use him to highlight such issues as animal overpopulation.

Another option, says celebrity pet trainer Andrea Arden, of New York's Andrea Arden Dog Training, would be for the Obamas to become involved with programs that teach children to treat pets humanely, or to get Bo involved with work as a therapy dog.

"I like it better than Bo writing a book," she said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Who’s a good Bo?

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  1. Just the two of us

    Bo, left, and Sunny, the Obama family's new puppy, are pictured on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on August 19, 2013 by the White House. The White House announced a new resident on Monday. Sunny, a one-year-old Portuguese Water Dog, moved into the Washington residence of President Barack Obama and his family, joining Bo, a male dog of the same breed, the White House announced on its website. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Story time

    US President Barack Obama walks with Bo, the family dog, as he arrives to read a story to children attending the annual Easter Egg Roll on April 1, 2013 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Easter egg time

    Sasha Obama, US President Barack Obama's daughter, walks their dog Bo during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, April 1, 2013. (Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Helping families

    First Lady Michelle Obama and First Family dog Bo arrive to participate in a pre-Easter celebration with military families and children at the Fisher House, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, on March 20, 2013. (Jewel Samad / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Bo bells

    Michelle Obama holds the first family's dog, Bo, before reading at the Children's National Medical Center on Dec. 14, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Bo Ho-Ho!

    Bo makes a final inspection of the 2012 White House Christmas decorations. (YouTube) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. White House welcome

    Michelle Obama and Bo welcome military families, including Gold Star and Blue Star parents, spouses and children for the first viewing of the 2012 holiday decorations at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28, 2012. (Mary Calvert / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Picture perfect

    Bo, the Obama family dog, poses for a photo on the North Lawn of the White House on Sept. 28, 2012. (Chuck Kennedy / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Bo in the Oval Office

    President Obama and Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi pet Bo at the conclusion of their meeting in the Oval Office on Sept. 19, 2012. Danny Russel, senior director for Asian Affairs, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton watch at left. (Pete Souza / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Charitable chap

    To kick off the Month of the Military Child, first lady Michelle Obama and her dog Bo participate in a pre-Easter celebration with military families and children at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on April 4, 2012 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. First dog

    U.S. President Barack Obama bends down to pet his dog, Bo, outside the Oval Office of the White House on March 15, 2012. (Larry Downing / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Official pooch portrait

    First Lady Michelle Obama is seen with Bo, the Obama family dog, in the White House Kitchen Garden, Sept. 14, 2011. (Lawrence Jackson / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Having a ball

    Bo, the Obama family dog, holds a soccer ball as the South Lawn of the White House is set up for a sports clinic for Washington-area children on Oct. 6, 2011. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Story time

    President Obama's daughters Malia (far right) and Sasha (second from right) and pet Bo listen as the president and first lady Michelle Obama read a book to children during the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House on April 25, 2011. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Doggone delicious

    A marzipan replica of Bo guards the 2010 White House Chocolate Gingerbread House in the State Dining Room on Dec. 1, 2010. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Anybody home?

    Bo peers into the Oval Office from the Colonnade on Oct. 26, 2010. (Pete Souza / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Winging it

    First dog Bo runs up the stairs to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Aug. 19, 2010. (Evan Vucci / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Back on terra firma

    Bo is escorted by Samuel Sutton, the White House's master chief valet, upon arriving at Andrews Air Force Base July 18, 2010, after a weekend vacation with the first family in Maine. (Cliff Owen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Maine event

    Bo accompanies (from left) first lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia, President Obama and daughter Sasha on a weekend vacation vist to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Bar Harbor, Maine, on July 17, 2010. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Heel to the chief

    President Obama walks Bo to a picnic for members of Congress on the South Lawn of the White House June 8, 2010. Alaskan Salmon smoked on an open pit was served for dinner. (Gary Fabiano / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Waiting faithfully

    Bo waits paitiently for President Obama to emerge from his limo on March 5, 2010. Obama was returning to the White House after delivering a speech on clean energy jobs in Virginia. (Olivier Douliery / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Bo in the snow

    Bo, Obama the presidential family dog, is seen frolicking in the snow outside of the West Wing of the White House on Dec. 19, 2009. (Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. In Bo's image

    White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses explains his design for the official White House gingerbread house displayed in the State Dining Room during a press preview of holiday decorations in Washington, DC, on Dec. 2, 2009. The replica, made of white chocolate, features a miniature Bo. (Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Making the rounds

    First daughters Malia Obama, right, and Sasha Obama, center, take their dog Bo around to visit patients while at the Children's National Medical Center with their mother, first lady Michelle Obama on Dec. 22, 2009 in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Bo's bro

    Cappy, the brother of Obama family dog, Bo, eats treats at a birthday celebration for Bo in the Rose Garden of the White House October 9, 2009 in Washington, D.C. (Pete Souza / The White House via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Play time

    Bo gets a belly rub from first daughters Malia, left and Sasha as they wait for the Marine One presidential helicopter to land on the South Lawn of the White House upon their father's from a trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania in September 2009. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Air Bo

    A White House staffer takes Bo on board the the Air Force One in Cape Cod on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on Aug. 30, 2009, en route to Washington, D.C. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Party time

    Vice President Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama, Malia Obama and family dog Bo arrive at a luau for members of Congress and their families on the South Lawn of the White House on June 25, 2009. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Bad to the phone

    Bo bites a television camera's microphone in the Rose Garden of the White House during President Barack Obama's departure to Saudi Arabia for the first stop on a trip to the Middle East and Europe on June 2, 2009. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Picture perfect

    Bo's official portrait, which features the first pooch striking a pose on the South Lawn, is available as a downloadable baseball card on the White House's Web site. Stats on the back of the card include his year of birth, hobbies, favorite food and more. (Chuck Kennedy / White House via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Shoe!

    Brian Mosteller, White House deputy director of Oval Office operations, attempts to protect his shoes as he plays with Bo in the Cabinet Room on April 29, 2009. (Pete Souza  /  White House via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Walk of fame

    White House horticulturist Dale Haney walks Bo through the Colonnade at the White House in April 2009. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Running buddies

    Bo gives President Barack Obama a run for his money on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 2009. (Larry Downing / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Meet the pres

    Bo gets acquainted with the head of his new household, President Obama, on the South Lawn of the White House. (Pete Souza  /  White House via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Is this thing on?

    Bo sniffs a microphone during his introduction to the White House press corps on the South Lawn of the White House, April 14, 2009. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Greeting the pres

    President Barack Obama is greeted by his daughters Sasha, center, Malia, right, and dog Bo as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15, 2009. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Petting project

    In this undated photo, President Obama helps his daughter Sasha get acquanted with Bo, the family's new Portugese Water Dog puppy, at the White House. (Pete Souza / The White House via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Frisky business

    From left, an energetic Bo sets a brisk pace for President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Malia and Sasha on the South Lawn of the White House in April 2009. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Say cheese!

    Bo seems to be stealing the spotlight from President Obama's daughter Malia as she takes him for a highly public walk on the South Lawn at the White House in April 2009. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. There's a good Bo

    President Obama presents Bo, the first family's new Portuguese Water Dog puppy, on the South Lawn next to his family in April 2009. (Larry Downing / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Corridors of power

    Pawprints join famous footsteps as President Obama welcomes the new First Dog to the White House in March 2009. (Pete Souza / The White House via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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