President-Elect Barack Obama announced yesterday in his acceptance speech after winning the US presidency that a puppy will be moving into the White House with the Obama family. Michelle Obama said in a recent TV interview that the family would like to adopt a rescue dog. Imagine being the shelter volunteer who’s busily cleaning out runs or scooping litterboxes when the First Family walks in to adopt a dog!
Malia, 10, has expressed interest in a Goldendoodle, but the family hasn’t yet announced whether or not she’ll get the requested “designer dog.” Sasha, 7, has not states a breed preference. Malia is allergic to dogs, so the lucky pooch will need to have a hypoallergenic coat.
Just in case the Obamas read Petlvr: The Blog, here are a few tips for the First Family on integrating the new First Dog into the currently petless family:
- When choosing the puppy, make sure someone asks the shelter these ten questions.
- Housebreaking time is bonding time. The First Family will surely be too busy to allow the girls to take full responsibility for the new puppy’s care, but if at all possible, make sure that someone in the family, rather than a staff member, always takes the puppy out for its potty breaks. These frequent short walks will cement the bond between family and dog, and picking up poop will help Malia and Sasha stay grounded while living a life of fame and privilege.
- Don’t count on a Goldendoodle being hypoallergenic just because it’s half Poodle. Many poodle mixes inherit a coat that can trigger allergies just as easily as any other dog’s coat. Make sure that Malia meets the pup before the adoption is final, and spends some time playing with him or her to make sure Malia won’t have an allergic reaction.
- Choose a pup that is calm, and which received ample socialization from birth onward. A puppy born to a mother rescued while pregnant, in a foster home with an experienced caregiver, might be the best choice. If the new First Dog wasn’t handled and exposed to new experiences very early on, it might have trouble coping with the hectic atmosphere and constant travel that come with belonging to the First Family.
- Let Malia and Sasha learn to walk and train the new puppy, rather than sending it away for training or hiring a trainer to come to the White House who will work directly with the dog. Instead, hire a well respected trainer who will teach the First Daughters to use positive reinforcement to train their own puppy. It will be a fun, fascinating adventure for Malia and Sasha, and will help them learn skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. Better still, the dog will learn to respond to its young owners, rather than only to the trainer. Dogs work hardest and most happily for the person who trains them.