Local News

First pup could be lots of work, tons of fun

Posted April 13, 2009 6:05 p.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2009 7:22 p.m. EDT

— Breeders of Portuguese water dogs say that White House staffers could be in for a bit more work after the new first pup arrives Tuesday afternoon.

The gift of a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog named "Bo" from Sen. Edward Kennedy fulfilled an election night promise by then-President-elect Barack Obama to his daughters, Sasha and Malia.

"It's a mixed reaction," said Marlene Nicewander, who raises the breed in Raleigh. "I'm excited about the fact the breed has a heightened visibility."

But Portuguese water dogs aren't a quiet, demure breed that likes to sit still.

"These dogs are high energy, high maintenance, and they really need a lot of time attention," said Maggie Martin, who works with Nicewander in breeding Portuguese water dogs.

Simply put, without a job and lots of playtime, these dogs will find lots of trouble.

"If this dog gets bored in the White House, there are plenty of antiques to chew on," Martin said.

On the other hand, there's plenty to entertain Bo in the White House: "He'll be in the fountain; he'll be in the White House pool, I guarantee it," Martin said.

And in many ways, the high-energy breed is good for a young family such as the Obamas, the breeders said.

"They're ideal for children because they are very engaging," Nicewander said.

Bo's breeder, Martha Stern of Boyd, Texas, said the puppy seemed to be a good fit because the Obamas are an active family and have the resources to give him the training he needs. His non-shedding coat will also be good for Malia allergies.

Martin and Nicewander said they're excited that the first puppy will bring a little attention to the breed they love.

There is a relatively small number of Portuguese water dogs, contrasted to other breeds in the U.S., owners said. The Triangle American Kennel Club has only four members of the breed.