April 15, 2009 / 3:08 AM / 10 years ago

Forget economic crisis, the Obamas have a new dog

U.S. President Barack Obama's new pet dog Bo, a six-month old male Portuguese water dog, runs on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington April 14, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Forget the economic crisis, the North Korean nuclear standoff and Somali pirates. The hottest news at the White House on Tuesday was the long-awaited arrival of Bo, the first family’s new dog.

Bo, a 6-month-old curly-haired black-and-white Portuguese Water Dog, has excited a media frenzy in the United States, with television networks, newspapers and websites closely tracking the Obamas’ search for a dog.

Media outlets competed to be the first to reveal the identity of the “first dog,” one of the most closely kept secrets in Washington since President Barack Obama disclosed on Election Night that he had promised daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, a dog after the November 4 presidential vote.

Bo, a gift from Senator Edward Kennedy and suddenly the world’s most famous puppy, appeared to take his newfound celebrity in stride on Tuesday as the Obamas took turns walking him on the south lawn of the White House in front of a much larger-than-normal White House press corps.

“I finally got a friend. It took some time,” Obama joked, referring to former President Harry Truman’s famous line, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

The Obamas had narrowed their search to a Labradoodle or Portuguese Water Dog, a water-loving breed that get its name from its long history of helping Portuguese fishermen gather fish in nets, retrieve tackle and carry messages between ships.

Journalists passed up the opportunity to press the president about the state of the economy or North Korea’s decision to expel U.N. nuclear inspectors, quizzing him instead about where Bo would sleep and who would have to walk him.

“We will all have to take turns walking the dog,” said Obama, although the question appeared to be who would be walking whom after Bo broke into a run and half-dragged the president after him.

As for the sleeping arrangements — inside the White House, but “not in my bed,” Obama said.

Reporting by Ross Colvin; Editing by Peter Cooney

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