Last night Obama reaffirmed a promise to his daughters:

From the campaign’s onset, he vowed to buy the girls a dog, win or lose. And as he stood before the country as president-elect Tuesday, he announced that America would have a new First Dog come January.

“I love you both more than you can imagine,” Obama told his daughters, Sasha and Malia. “You have earned the puppy that is coming with us.”

Naturally, there’s controversy:

Malia, 10, has already expressed a desire for a “goldendoodle,” a hypoallergenic hybrid of a golden retriever and a standard poodle that typically can’t be found at the pound and isn’t recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club.

Public opinion, however, is already at odds with the First Family. In a recent AKC poll, voters said they would like the Obamas to adopt a purebred poodle.

And check out this silly quote:

“Most of our Presidents kept purebreds in the White House,” AKC Spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said. “When times get tough – during a bad economy or when presidential pressures are at their peak — these dogs serve as personal companions and give much relaxation and laughter to our leaders during difficult times.”

As you’d expect, the usual suspects take the opposite view:

Should the Obamas go with a purebred, they’d do so over the objections of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In a letter sent to Obama, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk urged him to buy a pound pup rather than purchase a pooch from a breeder or a pet store.

“No one needs to tell you that this country is proud to be a melting pot and that there is something deeply wrong and elitist about wanting only a purebred dog,” Newkirk wrote.

Chill out, it’s a family pet. Let the little girls have their puppy.

Also, for most pet buyers, breeding is not about elitism, it’s about quality and dependability. When a dog is descended from lines that have been shown, inspected, and bred by experts, it’s far less likely to develop unexpected health problems or behaviors when it grows up.

(Obviously, when you’re talking about animal breeds that have been over-specialized for show purposes to the point of having health problems, that’s a different story.)

Newkirk continus:

“Millions of Great American Mutts — the dog that should be our national dog — are set to die in our nation’s extremely overcrowded pounds and shelters for lack of good homes.”

First of all, how the shelters and pounds treat their animals is not the fault of people who own pets. “Adopt this pet or we’ll kill it” is not an admirable sales pitch.

Second, one of the points of having breeding programs is that they create pets that are dependable and lovable and that people don’t want to abandon. Animal shelters and breeding programs are two different solutions to the problem of unwanted pets.

Having said that, all three of my cats are from the Orphans of the Storm shelter in Deerfield, and they’re great. It would be nice if Obama got a shelter pup, but only if that’s what his daughters want. If he caves in to anyone besides his children on the subject household puppies, he has no soul.

Finally, I must give kudos to reporter Stacy St. Clair for digging out every last aspect of this story:

If Obama makes good on his puppy promise, the gesture could be seen as olive branch to a segment of the population that didn’t support for him. An Associate Press-Yahoo News poll last summer found that pet owners favored McCain (who owns more than a dozen dogs) over Obama 42 percent to 37 percent, with dog owners particularly in McCain’s corner.

If you’re assigned the “First Pet” story, this is the way to do it right.

Here is the latest addition to our family, Joey. He is a min-pin (miniature pinscher) that we adopted from

Here he is with our other dog, Vegas. They seem to be getting along, but she’s still not quite sure what to make of him.

Vegas and Joey
Larger ImageVegas and Joey

My 13 year old dog Lady was diagnosed with a bladder tumor 7 months ago. She was the best dog, always eager to please. She did a very good job of hiding her discomfort, trying to carry on as normally as possible (between peeing). She barked happily when my wife and I came home, ate heartily, followed me everywhere, as she always did, up and down stairs in our split-level home.


In recent weeks, my wife Mary and I discussed with greater frequency whether it was time to let her go. But she still had that light in her eyes and seemed to be having many more good moments than bad. The bad being increased urination and some whimpering in her sleep. Over the last weekend I noticed her trembling somewhat as she stood eagerly waiting for a treat. She must have been using every ounce of energy trying to maintain as much normalcy as possible. We thought it might be time, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to make the final decision.

Last Monday when I left for work, I told Lady that she had done her job very well for the time we were together and that she did not have to do it anymore. I said that it was time that we both let go.

When our neighbor came by to let her out and give her a pill that day, Lady did not greet her as she normally would in excitement of the treats that the kind neighbor-lady always brought. In fact, she was so weak, she would not get up at all. When Mary and I got home, we took her to the vet to be put to rest.

Despite being almost completely deaf, and being a dog unable to comprehend human speech, she still was able, being the obedient companion she was – she somehow listened that morning and did what she was told. What a good girl. Too good.

We will miss her terribly.