One of President-elect Barack Obama's first appointments is going to be a White House staffer who may pee on his Oval Office rug and chew his shoes.
From the stage at Chicago's Grant Park on Tuesday night he kept his promise to his little girls and delivered the news that, "You have earned the puppy that is coming with us." (He has since told the girls that it will be spring at the earliest before they get a new furball because he doesn't want to housebreak a puppy during the winter. Good call, Mr. President-elect.)
While thrilled for Malia and Sasha, my first thought was, a puppy? Are you crazy? He'll be too busy breaking in Congress to potty train a pup. And PETA has already sent a letter begging the Obamas to stick to a pound puppy or rescue dog. (That might just happen. In his first news conference, Obama adrressed the matter and allowed that he might get a mutt "like me," referring to his biracial, multinational background.)
The Obamas have talked often of Malia's asthma, so that automatically means they should check out the list of mostly nonshedding dogs recommended for allergy sufferers compiled by the American Kennel Club. Some of the dogs that made the list include the bichon frise, the Maltese and the Kerry blue terrier.
One asthma support site said that the family was looking at a soft coated wheaten terrier, which is so cute. But Malia, 10, also told the media of her love of the "goldendoodle," one of those designer dogs meant to weed out the worst and produce the best of both a golden retriever and the smart, nonshedding poodle.
When picking the pup, the first order of business for any family, even the first family, is to make sure the dog matches their lifestyle. Before bringing the pooch home, the Obamas must sort out issues of exercise, temperament and neediness. And Marilyn Wolf, a pet trainer and behavior consultant in New Port Richey, suggests that the Obamas "need to consider the characteristics they want in an adult dog. Puppies are adorable, but they grow into dogs."
Though most presidents have had purebred dogs in the White House, according to the Presidential Pet Museum, one of the most popular was Lyndon B. Johnson's mongrel, Yuki, who was picked up at a gas station by his daughter. It was the president's favorite among his pack of dogs and the two even entertained heads of state by singing duets.
The AKC took a poll this summer of what breed the family should adopt. The winner, by a wet nose, was the purebred poodle, just inching out the fuzzy wheaten.
Hang in there, guy, the race isn't over yet. Two very important young voters have to get their say first.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. See her blogs for Whoa, Momma! at gomomma.com.