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The Obamas' dog Bo dies at 12: 'He was exactly what we needed'

"Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion," the former president wrote in his announcement of the sad news.
Image: President Barack Obama
In this handout image provided by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama throws a ball for Bo, the family dog, in the Rose Garden of the White House September 9, 2010 in Washington, DC.Pete Souza / The White House
/ Source: TODAY

The Obama family’s dog, Bo, died at age 12 on Saturday after a battle with cancer.

Former President Barack Obama revealed the heartbreaking news on Instagram and Twitter, sharing a series of photos of Bo throughout the years, including a shot of the two running through the halls of the White House. He took to the caption to share a touching note about Bo and his companionship for over a decade.

“Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives—happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between,” Obama wrote in the caption. “He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair. He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.”

Michelle Obama shared her own post honoring the 12-year-old dog, signed by her entire family, including their second dog, Sunny. She posted a carousel of photos of Bo, including a shot at a White House Egg Roll, sitting behind the desk at the Oval Office and cuddling alongside the former first lady.

“This afternoon was a difficult one for our family. We said goodbye to our best friend—our dog, Bo—after a battle with cancer,” she wrote in the caption. “On the campaign trail in 2008, we promised our daughters that we would get a puppy after the election. At the time, Bo was supposed to be a companion for the girls. We had no idea how much he would mean to all of us.”

Michelle Obama described Bo as a “constant, comforting” presence in her family’s life over the decades, greeting their daughters Malia and Sasha, with a tail wag every time they came home from school.

“He was there when Barack and I needed a break, sauntering into one of our offices like he owned the place, a ball clamped firmly in his teeth,” she continued. “He was there when we flew on Air Force One, when tens of thousands flocked to the South Lawn for the Easter Egg Roll, and when the Pope came to visit. And when our lives slowed down, he was there, too—helping us see the girls off to college and adjust to life as empty nesters.”

Image: President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama throws a ball for Bo, the family dog, in the Rose Garden of the White House Sept. 9, 2010 in Washington, D.C.Pete Souza / The White House

She added, “This past year, with everyone back home during the pandemic, no one was happier than Bo. All his people were under one roof again—just like the day we got him. I will always be grateful that Bo and the girls got to spend so much time together at the end.”

The former first lady said that as a family, they will all miss Bo dearly, but are thankful that he was able to live a joyful life “full of snuggles, games of fetch, and evenings spent lying on the couch.”

First Family Easter Portrait
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha pose for a family portrait with their pets Bo and Sunny on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015 at the White House.Pete Souza / The White House

The former president publicly promised his daughters a puppy, then 10 and 7, during his victory speech in Chicago on Nov. 4, 2008, and he kept up his end of the bargain. Malia and Sasha picked the black-and-white 6-moth old Portuguese water dog themselves in addition to Bo’s adorable name, party stemming from R&B musician Bo Diddley, as the former first lady's father was nicknamed Diddley.

Bo was welcomed into the White House in April 2009, with the former president even admitting that he had “star quality” right off the bat. Five years later, the Obama family got their second Portuguese water dog, Sunny, to join Bo as his little sister.

Sunny, the Obama family's new puppy
Bo and Sunny.Pete Souza / The White House

Bo was part of plenty of exciting White House moments over the years, including meeting members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team during the "Let's Move" soccer clinic hosted by the former first lady in October 2011, partaking in some tricks during their holiday celebrations, and even just simply frolicking on the White House lawn with the Obamas.

“We also know we weren’t the only ones who cared for Bo, and are grateful for all the love you showed him over the years,” the former first lady concluded her touching post. “Please hug the furry members of your family a little closer tonight — and give them a belly rub from us.”