The First Dog

As if the pre-inaugural to-do list wasn't daunting enough, Barack Obama must move quickly to fulfill a promise made to his most important constituency. Full Story
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A_Sanico_MD

Gaithersburg, MD

#1 Nov 7, 2008
There has been a lot of public discussion about getting a "hypoallergenic" dog for Malia Obama who has asthma. My concern is that this could lead to disappointing - if not seriously detrimental - consequences for the future First Family and others in a similar situation. There is, unfortunately, no such thing as a truly non-allergenic or hypoallergenic dog. Dogs (and cats for that matter) produce allergenic proteins that can be found in their dander and saliva, regardless of their breed or the length and color of their hair, or lack thereof. Some may produce more - or less - allergens than others simply because of their individual nature. Allergen immunotherapy may be an option for those who wish to be desensitized to such allergens.
ekv

Highland Park, IL

#2 Nov 7, 2008
I agree with the editorial. The choice of a family pet is a family decision.
PMG

United States

#3 Nov 7, 2008
Cute story.

As an asthmatic and dog lover I empathize. I laud the fact that girls are busy researching the matter and think that they too put up with a lot and deserve their puppy.
Dog Lover

Western Springs, IL

#4 Nov 7, 2008
This was a cute story. I agree that everyone should mind their own busiess and let the family choose the right pet for them. It's great that the girls are proactive and researching dogs. That's how responsible owners find dogs and more importantly KEEP dogs.

I know plenty of people that adopted dogs from shelters only to return them. Just because you get a shelter dog, doesn't mean that it's right for your family.
JBB VA

Glen Allen, VA

#5 Nov 7, 2008
I truly hope that the Obamas adopt from an animal shelter or rescue group. There are numerous dogs within the "system" that would meet the allergy criteria. There are many purebreds or mixed breeds available - just browse the choices out on Petfinder's advanced search for Poodle for example. What an example the Obama family be helping these innocent, homeless and loving souls. What a statement they can make towards reducing homeless pets and putting an end to puppy mills and bringing compassion into their home.
Ann

Chicago, IL

#6 Nov 7, 2008
Shelter and rescue dogs are pretty equivalent--animals that desperately need good homes.

It's good to see that the kids are being responsible and doing the research. It's even better to know that during a time that's going to bring them serious stress and pressure as well as tremendous privilege, they'll have somebody other than a parent who can always be there for a cuddle, who doesn't care what the media says about them or their family, and gives and receives love unconditionally.

Let's hope that rescues and shelters get all kinds of good publicity from this.

No more homeless pets!
PAWS Chicago volunteer

Elk Grove Village, IL

#7 Nov 7, 2008
A family as open-minded as the Obamas will probably save a life and adopt a shelter puppy. Many shelters have incorporated a "Meet your Match" program that surveys adopters about their lifestyle, exercise and training plans, and match them with dogs well suited to them. PAWS Chicago walks adopters through a very detailed information packet and the animal's background to help ensure the decision is informed. I hope the girls enjoy their new puppy.
Jacqueass

Thiensville, WI

#8 Nov 7, 2008
The editorial is right on. Leave the kids alone and let them pick the puppy.

Please ignore the few hundred animal rights nuts in the U.S. whining about saving a dog's life. They are simply lying to the public about "overpopulation." Shelters are importing adoptable dogs from other shelters and even other countries, as many of the shelter dogs are pit bulls or elderly or sick.

Shelter dogs are great for some, but not for others. You never know what temperament or health problems you are going to get. Shelters also frequently lie about a dog's background, saying it is or is a mix of an established breed when it just looks sorta like one.

The President elect is a smart guy. He is not going to buy a puppy from a large-scale breeding operation with substandard conditions (aka a "puppy mill"). However there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a pet from a small-scale, home breeder. The best dogs come from these hard-working people who are in it to preserve their breed of choice and NEVER come close to making a profit.
scoobydoo

Chicago, IL

#9 Nov 7, 2008
What a great article. A lot of people don't realize that there are breed rescue groups out there -- networks of volunteers who take in dogs of a certain breed, just because they happen to like that breed. These people do their work out of great love and usually personal cost - they pay the vet bills, etc. And they treat their dogs like royalty. There are hundreds of breed rescue groups all across the country.
KrisNChicago

Chicago, IL

#10 Nov 7, 2008
Yes, for G*d's sake, let the Obamas choose their dog in peace! I think it's natural that the public is interested in the new First Family's pet choice, but it's in poor taste for the AKC, PETA or any other organization to be issuing official statements about which type of dog the Obamas should choose.
terry491

United States

#11 Nov 7, 2008
PERHAPS AN ALASKAN MALAMUTE?

Since: Feb 08

Chicago

#13 Nov 7, 2008
It's a dog, not a political statement! Let the first family make this decision as a family and not in the press.
scoobydoo

Chicago, IL

#14 Nov 7, 2008
Jacqueass wrote:
The editorial is right on. Leave the kids alone and let them pick the puppy.
Please ignore the few hundred animal rights nuts in the U.S. whining about saving a dog's life. They are simply lying to the public about "overpopulation." Shelters are importing adoptable dogs from other shelters and even other countries, as many of the shelter dogs are pit bulls or elderly or sick.
Shelter dogs are great for some, but not for others. You never know what temperament or health problems you are going to get. Shelters also frequently lie about a dog's background, saying it is or is a mix of an established breed when it just looks sorta like one.
The President elect is a smart guy. He is not going to buy a puppy from a large-scale breeding operation with substandard conditions (aka a "puppy mill"). However there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a pet from a small-scale, home breeder. The best dogs come from these hard-working people who are in it to preserve their breed of choice and NEVER come close to making a profit.
Actually you are much more likely to get a dog with genetic problems, kennel cough, viruses, etc., if you buy directly from a pet store. Private pet stores are much more likely to buy the cheap puppy-mill dogs from Mexico.

Animal shelters are required by law not only to provide proper veterinary care but also to be complete transparent about any chronic health problems the dog has. State agriculture agencies audit shelters on these very points.

As far as shelters "lying" about overpopulation problems...tell that to the 6 million animals that are euthanized every year. Tell that to the shelter workers who cry when perfectly nice animals are put down. No, they're not all vicious pit bulls.

And I'm not sure what research you have to back up your claim that shelters "frequently lie" about a dog's genetic background. Can you cite studies on this? More to the point, how many animal shelters have you worked for? Do you truly know the way they operate? I have volunteered at many different shelters in my life.

I would bet money that you are one of those small-scale home breeders that you mention.

I think your point is well taken that Sasha and Malia should choose the puppy, but don't slam animal shelters when they do phenomenal humane work on a shoestring budget.
Momotaro

Longmont, CO

#15 Nov 7, 2008
I think the next White House dog Obama picks should be choosen from a Sheltie Rescue. They are a good family pet, and very smart!
Perry F

United States

#17 Nov 7, 2008
Whoa! Let's back off.

Dad pronmised his daughters a new puppy. The fact they they shared the decision to select a pet from a shelter was great to hear but IT'S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.

The First Family will be under the microscope enough. Allow this family moment to be theirs.
GreekGoddess

Chicago, IL

#19 Nov 7, 2008
Wait: Why would you say in the article that the last time we had a democrat in the white house, he really blew it??? Becuase AFTER he left the white house, a worker at their home in NY left the door open and Buddy ran out, only to be hit by a car? Buddy was a very cool First Dog and I think it was a typical cheap shot by the Far Right Tribune to once again slander Bill any time they have the chance. Way to go.
Mike

Brentwood, TN

#20 Nov 7, 2008
A poodle? really? that's just awful? Like a giant poodle that is all weirdly shaved and bitchy and mean? Is that what we want in the White House? I vote for a Beagle
Cynic

Palatine, IL

#21 Nov 7, 2008
The First Dog should be a Dachshund. Dachsies are highly intelligent, spirited, good with children and the short-hair variety is great for kids with asthma - I know, I had one as an asthmatic kid - best friend a sick little boy could have ever had. Besides, dachshunds have a distinctive personality which the Obama girls would love. You want a good recommendation - Queen Elizabeth has Dachsies in addition to her Corgis.
Jacqueass

Thiensville, WI

#23 Nov 7, 2008
Scoobydoo, I don't know what message you were reading.
1. Pet stores never came up. You are correct that people should absolutely never buy from a pet store!!! You are best off knowing the source of the pet.
2. Shelters generally do great work, and there is nothing wrong with adopting a shelter pet as long as you know the risks of doing so. A long time ago, my first shelter pet, a cat, died very young. He probably died of FIP, which is likely the most horrible disease in the animal world - 100% fatal, no cure, no effective, long-term treatment. It is most likely he picked up the virus (which sometimes later mutates into the deadly form) at the shelter.
3. The only comment about shelters which could be considered "slamming" was that shelters frequently list look-a-like animals as the breeds they look like. I visit shelters and rescue groups from time to time. Many black, generic mutts, for example, are labeled "Lab" or "Lab mix", even if is more likely a Rott mix or unidentifiable mutt. This is done for advertising purposes. If it gets more animals out of the shelter, then fine, but don't use the false labeling to claim that there are a lot of purebreds in shelters because there just aren't. Also, most breeds have breed rescue programs that will pull animals of the breed out of the shelter and place them in foster care or new homes. The girls are smart and are already looking at breed rescue as a possibility.
4. My comment was that animal rightists, not shelters, are spreading the myth of overpopulation. The numbers of animals in shelters and euthanized animals, especially dogs, have been steadily decreasing in recent years. The PeTA people are vastly overstating the number of "desirable" or "adoptable" animals in shelters. Unfortunately, many of the dogs and cats in shelters are undesirable to most people for various reasons - aggressiveness, breed/mix (pit bulls, etc)., elderly, chronic illnesses, too hyper, inconvenient or inappropriate behavior (incontinence, vomiting, etc.), and others. Further, a huge number of euthanized animals nationwide are unowned, feral cats which are impossible to domesticate as adults. Steve Dale has figures supporting all of these claims on his website.
5. The shelters do provide medical care, but in many cases, they do not know the animal's background. A respectable home breeder will be completely honest with you about the known and possible genetic and non-genetic diseases and susceptibilities in a breed.
6. I am, and am proud to be, a small, home-based breeder. Unfortunately, I can't announce the breed or my location because animal rights activists are legitimately the greatest domestic terrorist threat in the U.S., according to Homeland Security and the FBI. There is nothing wrong with breeding or with buying a healthy, well socialized pet from a respectable breeder. No one should treat breeders as outcasts until the conditions of their animals justify it.
JBB VA

Glen Allen, VA

#26 Nov 7, 2008
Thank you scoobydoo
I agree that the final decision should rest with the family - after all, this is a 12-18 year committment that should be taken quite seriously.
However, there are many options from where that choice can come from. All that many of us are asking is that they choose to adopt rather than buy.
scoobydoo wrote:
<quoted text>
Actually you are much more likely to get a dog with genetic problems, kennel cough, viruses, etc., if you buy directly from a pet store. Private pet stores are much more likely to buy the cheap puppy-mill dogs from Mexico.
Animal shelters are required by law not only to provide proper veterinary care but also to be complete transparent about any chronic health problems the dog has. State agriculture agencies audit shelters on these very points.
As far as shelters "lying" about overpopulation problems...tell that to the 6 million animals that are euthanized every year. Tell that to the shelter workers who cry when perfectly nice animals are put down. No, they're not all vicious pit bulls.
And I'm not sure what research you have to back up your claim that shelters "frequently lie" about a dog's genetic background. Can you cite studies on this? More to the point, how many animal shelters have you worked for? Do you truly know the way they operate? I have volunteered at many different shelters in my life.
I would bet money that you are one of those small-scale home breeders that you mention.
I think your point is well taken that Sasha and Malia should choose the puppy, but don't slam animal shelters when they do phenomenal humane work on a shoestring budget.

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