Peru offers bald dog of Incas to Obama family

Mon Nov 10, 2008 5:18pm EST
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By Terry Wade

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvians crazy about their national dog, a bald and often toothless breed popular among Incan kings, offered on Monday to send a hypoallergenic puppy to the Obama family.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has promised daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, a new pet for the White House. But Malia is allergic to most breeds, he said on Friday as speculation swirled about the dog the family would choose.

Owners of the Peruvian Hairless Dog, a breed dating back 3,000 years and depicted in pre-Hispanic ceramics, say it is perfect for kids who are sensitive to dogs.

"They do not cause any type of allergy and are very friendly and sweet," said Claudia Galvez, 38, director of the Friends of the Peruvian Hairless Dog Association.

"We want to give a male puppy to Obama's daughters, so they get to experience all the joys of having a dog but without any allergies."

According to Peruvian folklore, the dogs have above-average body temperature, which compensates for their lack of hair and helps alleviate symptoms of asthma or arthritis suffered by their owners.

Galvez delivered a letter detailing her offer to the U.S. embassy in Lima on Monday and hopes Obama will accept it.

Galvez has a 4-month-old pedigree puppy to send to the Obama family. For now, she is calling it Ears because it has two large, perky ones.

"But if we send it to the United States, its official name will be Machu Picchu," she said, referring to the ancient Incan citadel, Peru's top tourist attraction.

(Editing by John O'Callaghan)

<p>A four-month old puppy that goes by the name "Ears" is seen in Lima November 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo</p>