In honor of the new pure-bred pup, the Obamas made a donation to the Washington Humane Society (WHS), America's only Congressionally chartered animal welfare agency.
The White House also responded Aug. 19 to a public petition for an end to dog breed discrimination legislation. "We don’t support breed-specific legislation – research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources."
The Portuguese Water Dog breed, "works great for the Obamas because of allergies in their family," the White House explained on its blog.
The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America (PWDCA) says of its breed:
- "They could play harder than you would want." (Sounds like the U.S. Congress.)
- And "Portuguese Water Dogs are happiest when they have a job." Sounds like the U.S. population.)
- The pooches are noted for "exuberance", intelligence", "agility", and an "innate sense of humor." (Sounds like what Washington needs.)
Sunny might be named for one of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's three Portuguese Water Dogs. Sen. Kennedy had brought his own Sunny and Splash to Washington for what would be the legislator's final term in 2009. His pup Captain Courageous had remained in Massachusetts.
Bo and Sunny came from the same lineage of Sen. Kennedy's dogs -- he had lobbied for the breed as "the perfect choice for first dog."
- President Washington had many dogs, and gave them names like Tipler, Sweetlips, and Madame Moose who had "amorous fits," he confided in his diary. The first Prez also had a parrot -- and a jackass.
- President Ulysses S. Grant had several dogs at the White House but all died mysteriously. When he received a Newfoundland pup named Faithful, Grant summoned all his staff and said, "When this dog dies, every employee in the White House will be at once discharged." The Newfoundland lived to be old Faithful.
- President Harry Truman was given a cocker spaniel puppy but Truman gave Feller to the White House physician. Dog lovers across the country howled. But later, "Give 'em Hell Harry" also gave away Mike the Irish Setter. Seems Mike would not settle down, and he also developed rickets.
Still, Truman wisely and famously advised, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."
- LBJ's various dogs, like their master, often caused havoc. His white collie Blanco wee-weed on an Alexander Calder sculpture loaned to the White House by the Museum of Modern Art. Johnson claimed that his mutt Yuki spoke with a Texas accent, and allowed the white dog to sit in on cabinet meetings. In the Oval Office, Yuki howled while Johnson attempted to sing.
In the most infamous photo op, "President Johnson caused a storm of protest when he lifted (beagle) 'Him' by his ears," admits the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum.
- President George H.W. Bush's dogs Fred and Millie had autobiographies "as dictated to Barbara Bush". "Millie's Book" was a 1990 best-seller. But Millie wasn't always best. The English Springer Spaniel was voted "Ugliest Dog" by readers of "Washingtonian", which put her mug shot on its cover. The magazine apologized, sent dog biscuits, and the President wrote a thank-you letter to the editor.
In his re-election campaign, the incumbent President G.H.W.B. said of his Democratic opponents Gov. Bill Clinton and Sen. Al Gore, "My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos. Those "bozos", not Bush 41, won two terms.
Doggerel expert Ogden Nash explained it even better than Truman, in "An Introduction to Dogs" -- "Dogs are upright as a steeple, And much more loyal than people."