Posts Tagged ‘Obama dog’

The value of Bo Obama, the president’s Portuguese water dog, has been revealed.

The “rescue” dog is valued a$1,600. That is cheap for a Portuguese water dog, but if you got one from a rescue organization or from a shelter, it wouldn’t cost that much.

Now, I’ve never bought the line that this dog was a rescue. This dog was bred, raised, and trained for the president. Bo came is a nearly grown pup, which was a good cover against the continuous whining from the people who were demanding that the president had to adopt a dog.

I don’t know of anyone else who has had their rescues “appraised,” but my guess is they haven’t been valued at anywhere near that sum.

This dog’s status as a rescue should be considered a bit dubious.  The story behind Bo is that he was kept by a family, who then returned him to the breeder. That’s a plausible story, but I don’t think we can call this dog a rescue.

He’s a breeder return, not a rescue.

It doesn’t bother me that much, but it will bother some people.

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Seriously, if all you can complain about these days is where the president got his dog, consider yourself lucky.

You haven’t lost a job.

You don’t have a kid fighting in the wars. (Note, that’s “wars,” not “war.”)

Consider it a good thing that Obama’s daughters get to have a dog. Every child should get to know a good dog. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a breed based upon shedding and temperament.

It’s just like how I would rather have my dogs easily trained and possessing of a very strong retrieving instinct. If I went to shelter, I could get a dog that had those characteristics. However, it won’t be exactly what I want. A retriever puppy has to be raised in the right environment for those traits to develop as they should. Further, the addition of one breed in that dog’s bloodline that doesn’t have the instinct or temperament could mean that this dog is not as good at it as the performance bred dog.

“But that’s ‘breedism.'”

Please take that somewhere else. Breeds vary in inherited behaviors and motor patterns. Dog breeds are not the same as human races. Human races aren’t that different from each other. Dog breeds are quite different from each other in too many way to elucidate here.

That’s one of the advantages dogs have. They vary so much that one can choose the breed or strain one wants.

Yes, it would be nice if there were no homeless dogs. It would be even nicer if stupid people didn’t breed them for stupid reasons. But the Obama dog wasn’t bred by a stupid person. That dog was bred by someone who TOOK BACK A DOG SHE BRED, as per the breed club’s bylaws and as per the contract on which the dog was sold.

What’s wrong with wanting a specific breed or strain of dog?

I could never live with a coonhound. I can’t stand the baying sound.

I could never live with a toy breed because coyotes like to eat toy breeds.

I like having more than one or two dogs, so virtually any breed of terrier or molosser is out.

I like a dog that can be trained really easily and at the highest levels, so sighthounds are out.

I like dogs that aren’t protective, so many herding and working breeds are out, as is the Chesapeake Bay retriever.

I like dogs that have retrieving instinct as part of their predatory motor patterns. There aren’t many breeds that are selectively bred for that motor pattern.

So I know what I want in a dog.

I probably can’t get that out of the shelter dog. I might be able to. I do know what I’m looking for, so I might be able to find it. I won’t be able to breed from it, though, and I have no way of finding a relatively renewable supply of such dogs.

I’m not saying that shelter dogs shouldn’t be considered as pets. However, if you want something specific, it’s better to deal with breeders. The only breeder to consider is a serious dog person who sometimes has a litter. That’s the reality of the situation.

So while it may make a certan demographic feel good about opposing the president’s choice for a dog, it really isn’t doing any good. We’re laughing at your self-righteous indignation. I hope that all of your dogs are rescues.

Most people welcome the choice. I was skeptical of the choice originally, because I was really worried about the Portuguese water dog’s genetic diversity and how that breed could withstand a popularity spike. Now, I see that the breed club has very strict rules for their breeders. Such strong rules might help keep this breed stable.

Of course, allowing outcrosses and doing away with strictly closed studbooks is something that will have to happen for this breed. However, I think the breed is unlikely to suffer greatly from mass-production as a result of this choice. In fact, the president set a good example by carefully selecting a breeder with the help of Senator Kennedy. He waited until his family became settled in their new digs, and he waited until his daughters were old enough to really appreciate a dog.

I hope this dog proves to be an excellent family pet for the Obamas. He’s already captured the nation’s imaginaton. Let’s hope this focused attention becomes a learning event for more responsible dog ownership.

And that’s where we should be focused– not whining with self-righteous bromides.

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The Obama puppy will arrive Tuesday. My source is TMZ.

Here is his background:

He is a black Portuguese water dog, which means that Portuguese water dogs are very likely to become a fad dog. The narrow gene pool of the porty means that lots of improperly bred dogs are going to be on the market within the next few years, and the breed will develop lots of health problems.

However, some other facts might mitigate this problem. The first of these is he’s already six months old. He’s not a cute little lump of fur. He’s an adolescent dog, which means he’s more than just a little bit ornery.

As soon as he tears something up at the White House, the press will have a field day, and people probably won’t be as excited about buying the latest fad.

Secondly, he’s a rescue dog of sorts. His Texas breeder, who is friends with noted Portuguese water dog lover Senator Ted Kennely, sold him to a family a few months ago. For some reason, they couldn’t keep him, so they returned to puppy to the breeder. This means that the breeder of the Obamas’ new dog is a reputable breeder.

I would be a little upset had the Obamas chosen a very young puppy from a dodgy breeder, but in this case, they are upholding their promise to rehome a dog.

I’m sure the animal fanatics don’t like it. TS, I say.

And I’m sure that everyone hoping he didn’t get a dog from such a narrow gene pool is rather upset, too. However, there are some silver linings to this choice.

One them not often mentioned is that he’s chosen one of those old European water dogs, one of the ancestors of the retrievers and water spaniels. Dogs of this type existed in virtually every country in Europe, including England, where they were called rough water dogs or “water rugs.” The German, Russian, and French versions of these dogs became the poodles. The Spanish and Portuguese versions still exist as water dogs, although the Spanish variety is used as a herding dog and is still much more numerous as a working dog.

I believe these dogs are closely related to curly-haired herding dogs, like the Schafpudel and the Puli.  These dogs then were directed to collect shot arrows and then nets, and then whole strains were bred in various countries as water dogs. In Britain and Ireland, they were bred with spaniels and setters to make water spaniels.

When the Portguese and Basques brought dogs of this type to Newfoundland, they became stranded and interbred with various French and British dogs and the Cao de Castro Laboreiro. These dogs became the St. John’s water dogs. In fact, if you look at  a Portuguese water dog and a St. John’s water dog, they are quite similar in body type and color.

And that’s why Labradoodles and goldendoodles so closely resemble Portuguese water dogs, Barbet, and other strains of these old water dogs. All that is done in that cross is a reunion of two related bloodlines that were separated by geography and selective breeding.

I would have preferred that the Obamas rescued a Labradoodle. However, it’s hard to guarantee that Labradoodle doesn’t shed. And if they got a goldendoodle, chances are very high that it would shed. Portuguese water dogs shed a bit, but nothing like their golden retriever relatives.

Of course, the lack of shedding won’t guarantee that the dog will be hypoallergenic for the very simple reason that no breed is truly hypoallergenic. People are allergic to the dander of the dogs, and one of the reasons why people are often super allergic to golden retrievers is that they have long, oily hair that collects the dander. They shed lots of it twice a year, so if you are allergic to a dog, this is one breed that will make you have quite a reaction.

Update: Here is the first dog’s new website, and his eye-shine is such that it makes me think that he might be a Republican. (Just kidding).

Update Part Deux:  White House denies validity of the First Dog Charlie website. However, the dog featured in the website looks just like the dog in new White House photos and even has the rainbow lei.  Whatever the case, the Obama dog’s name is “Bo.”

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The Obamas have picked a dog.

They are rescuing it. That’s the good thing.

Problem: it’s from a breed with really poor genetic diversity.

In 1975, there were 66 Portuguese water dogs and 85 worldwide.

All Portuguese water dogs descend from these animals.

It’s not that this is a bad breed. It’s not.

It’s that it is a relict. At one time, nearly every European country had a shaggy, low shed dog of the poodle type. The British version of this dog, and the precursor to the retrievers and water spaniel is the rough water dog, also known as the “water rug.” And relicts don’t have good genetic diversity. All of these dogs descend from a mere 30 dogs. That means they these dogs don’t have as many genetic cards to shuffle to breed for good health.

The Portuguese water dog is so inbred that it is model organism for genetics research.

I would say that in ten years that Portuguese water dog will have the following problems: 1/3 will have temperament issues and the average lifespan will be about 6 years.

This breed will not be able to withstand the popularity surge that is sure to happen. This surge will lead to puppy milling and uninformed backyard breeding. Both of which will lead to less genetic testing for disorders.

Ted Kennedy may have a pair of them, and he was probably instrumental in choosing the dog for President Obama.  He might like them, but if he really understood  their issues, he’d reconsider having the president choose one.

They need to do some more vetting, because the Portuguese water dogs will need a vet or two in the future.

I hope that this dog is chosen for the right reasons. Bill Clinton got Buddy the wild Labrador because he wanted a dog that made him look like a family man. This dog arrived on the heels of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He was chosen because Labs were (and still are) the number 1 dog breed in America. He couldn’t be a black one because that dog wouldn’t photograph well. He couldn’t be a yellow one because the dog’s color would photograph too well. So a chocolate was chosen. And to make matters worse, he was a working-type chocolate- the wildest kind of Lab you can get!

I don’t think Buddy was really President Clinton’s favorite animal. I’ve always felt that he was just a photo-op dog. If Clinton had really wanted a Lab, he would’ve done lots of research and found that the working-type dogs are very energetic. He would’ve provided a lot of room for the dog to exercise, or he would’ve gotten a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, which is exactly what Reagan did.

Reagan received a Bouvier des Flandres puppy as a gift. The Bouvier puppy, named lucky, had very strong herding instincts. He also used his teeth to herd. The problem was he was herding the staff.

So Lucky got sent to Reagan’s Ranch.

And Reagan got a Cavalier named Rex.

(It’s not that Cavaliers are wonderfully healthy, but Rex fit their lifestyle far better than hard driving Bouvier. And for that, I do give the Reagans some credit.)

Update:  False alarm. Obamas still haven’t decided on dog.

The Portuguese water dog community can sleep soundly for now.

Update 4/13/09:  The Portuguese water dog community has proven to be very careful in the unveiling of the Obama dog. I doubt that this breed will be ruined as my earlier “chicken little” thoughts suggested.

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I don’t want one either!

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