April 13, 2009 / 3:39 PM / 9 years ago

About your new dog, Mr. President

CHICAGO (Reuters Life!) - A note for President Obama: Some things they might not have told you about your new Portuguese Water Dog.

<p>Bo, a six-month old male Portuguese water dog, is seen in this White House photograph released April 12, 2009. REUTERS/Pete Souza-The White House/Handout</p>

My family has owned one for three years, and they have this lust for paper. Ask anyone who has one.

Bo, the black-and-white, curly-haired Porty Senator Edward Kennedy is giving to your daughters Sasha and Malia won’t arrive at the White House until Tuesday so before he comes:

- Don’t leave that original copy of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at the corner of your desk unless you want to find it later on the White House lawn wrapped in easily spotted droppings.

- If a pocket veto really means sticking the bill in your pocket, he’ll nose it out of there like a subway thief. Of course you can always tell Congress the dog ate their bill.

- We hope you don’t use paper napkins at state dinners; the dog will remove them from guests’ laps quietly and efficiently, including that nuclear disarmament note you thought the North Korean envoy slipped you scribbled on a cocktail serviette.

Forgive the exaggeration but our Porty, Lucia, will choose a crumpled paper towel over a piece of meat when both are left on the table. Dinner guests are amused.

<p>U.S. President Barack Obama (top) pets Bo, a six-month old male Portuguese water dog, as daughters Sasha, Malia (R) and First lady Michelle Obama (L) look on in this White House photograph released April 12, 2009. REUTERS/Pete Souza-The White House/Handout</p>

Cardboard toilet paper spools left in the bathroom waste can are prized snacks.

For this breed “Paper is a food group,” says Stuart Freeman, president of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America.

“We have four PWDs currently although we’ve owned many more. Our first ... was a puppy from Hell. Naughty and headstrong. As he aged he got better and better but the early years were trying,” he added.

<p>U.S. President Barack Obama (top) pets Bo, a six-month old male Portuguese water dog, as daughter Sasha looks on in this White House photograph released April 12, 2009. REUTERS/Pete Souza-The White House/Handout</p>

But that dog later excelled in agility trials under his wife’s training, he said.

“Our PWDs are typical of our times. They will work for food. If you do not see your PWD for a few minutes, your dog is getting into trouble. If you don’t keep a young and active PWD busy with a job, it will find an amusement and I am sure you won’t like what the dog is doing,” Freeman said.

Jennifer McCarthy, a dog training expert, says PWDs require “constant exercise and constant stimulation. They make great working dogs (but) they can become destructive. You’ve got to stimulate their mind as well as their body.”

She said she probably would not have chosen the breed for the Obama family given how busy their lives are though the dogs are so intelligent they can be kept busy with games, like learning names for favorite toys which should keep Sasha and Malia busy.

But if our dog is typical, expect in-your-face friendly companionship, a demand for constant attention rewarded by asking for even more and -- writing as a life-long asthmatic -- a well justified hypoallergenic reputation is well justified.

Editing by Patricia Reaney

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