-- Newest "First" Dog Prepares to Make Its Mark on Washington --
New York, NY [April 13, 2009] – The American Kennel Club congratulates the Obama family on the anticipated arrival of their 6-month-old, AKC registered Portuguese Water Dog, Amigo’s New Hope, affectionately known as "Bo." Bo was bred by Art and Martha Stern, long-time breeders who reside near Dallas, TX, and is a littermate of Senator Ted Kennedy’s pup Cappy. The first dog ever owned by the Obama family, as well as the nation’s official "First Dog," this new presidential pup will not only leave a mark on the Obamas’ lives but shine a spotlight on dogs and the importance of responsible dog ownership around the world.
"With one of the American Kennel Club’s primary missions being the encouragement of responsible dog ownership, we are delighted with the wonderful example you have already set in researching the right breed for your family and obtaining a dog through a reputable breeder who is a member of the AKC parent club, The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America," said AKC President and CEO Dennis Sprung in a letter to the Obama family today. "We have been highlighting the First family’s quest to find the right dog for them on www.presidentialpup.com and using the unprecedented public interest as a platform for public education."
"This breed possesses a lot of energy, so without training or a job to do, the dog may entertain itself by running full-speed down the West Wing or barking at Republicans," said Mary Burch, Ph.D, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and CGC Director. "That type of behavior may not make the best impression on visiting dignitaries, so we recommend that the Obama’s enroll Bo in an obedience class such as the new AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program."
AKC has provided the Obamas with some basic training tips to get them started as well as a list of S.T.A.R. Puppy and CGC evaluators and training clubs in the Washington D.C. area that are ready and willing to assist them with their dog.
AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy (www.akc.org/starpuppy) stands for what every puppy needs – Socialization, Training, Activity and a Responsible Owner. Dogs up to one year of age are eligible to enroll in a six-week puppy or basic training class that is instructed by an AKC approved CGC Evaluator. Classes include valuable training tips for puppy owners such as housetraining and lessons on practical skills for puppies such as coming when called. The program is a pre-cursor to the AKC Canine Good Citizen® Program, which teaches and rewards dogs with good manners at home and in the community.
As a purebred, the Portuguese Water Dog has a predictable temperament, activity level and coat type, which is ideal for allergy sufferers like Malia. They are loyal and loving companions, cherished by many Americans throughout the country. However, the breed was developed to be a working animal and requires daily vigorous exercise. Historically, the breed spent most of its day swimming, assisting its fisherman owner by retrieving broken nets, diving for fish and delivering messages between ships.
Although currently only the 62nd most popular breed in the United States according to 2008 AKC registration statistics (http://www.akc.org/reg/dogreg_stats.cfm), the Portuguese Water Dog’s popularity is likely to rise due to its appointment as First Pup. Therefore, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, the AKC Parent club which monitors the health and well-being of the breed in U.S., has issued a press release of their own to urge the public to be cautious before jumping on any trend that involves a living animal.
"PWDs are classified as working dogs. That means they enjoy being given jobs to do where they can display their intelligence, strength and stamina," said Stu Freeman, President of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. "Like all dogs, they need positive training and socialization."
The best way to find a responsible breeder and start a search for a healthy, happy puppy is through the AKC parent club for your chosen breed or local all-breed kennel club in your town. Visit www.puppybuyerinfo.org to locate a local club or breeder.
AKC recommends that prospective buyers educate themselves on the hallmarks of a reputable breeder. Visiting the breeder's home or kennel and seeing at least one of the puppy's parents is ideal and will let you know what the future holds for your pup in terms of temperament and appearance.
Editor’s Note: AKC has b-roll available for broadcast. To pre-view the footage visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEf7hquR48U. To request a higher quality version, contact email@example.com or 212-696-8343 to get a copy of the footage or download from presidentialpup.com (link above right).
The Humane Society of the United States congratulates the Obamas on bringing a new dog, Bo, into their family, and thanks them for taking in a second-chance dog. Bo is a Portuguese water dog who was apparently returned by the family that originally purchased him.
"Americans can follow this positive example by visiting their local animal shelter or breed rescue group, and giving another dog or cat a second chance at a loving home," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "And President Obama can do even more for animal protection through the policies of federal agencies that deal with the welfare of millions of pets, helping us enforce existing animal welfare laws and cracking down on the national shame of rampant puppy mills in America."
Families, like the Obamas, who are interested in a particular breed of animal or have special circumstances such as allergies in their household can turn to their local animal shelter or breed rescue group. About one-quarter of all dogs in shelters are purebreds, many surrendered by their owners like the new First Dog.
Three million healthy and treatable dogs and cats are put down every year in shelters across America. These animals are loving, happy and loyal dogs and cats who ended up in shelters through no fault of their own. Yet, at the same time, there are more than 10,000 puppy mills churning out dogs for the pet trade to be sold to unsuspecting buyers.
The unconditional love of a dog can be particularly welcome for a First family as they face life in the public eye and the stresses of the presidential job. Just about every president has had a pet of some kind, and since the Civil War especially, pets have been a fixture at the White House. Most presidents have been dog owners, and more than fifty dogs have occupied its hallowed hallways. Most of the early cats there were "barn hands," with Abraham Lincoln the first president to bring one indoors.
"We see faddism when it comes to pet-keeping in the movies, and we may see that scenario play out in the case with the First Family's selection of a Portuguese water dog," added Pacelle. "There are reputable breeders of these dogs, yet sadly we expect disreputable puppy mill operators to start producing them as well, intent on cashing in on the heightened awareness of this breed."
The Humane Society of the United States has joined with pet rescue foundation Maddie's Fund and the Ad Council for a national public service campaign to encourage shelter pet adoption. The "Shelter Pet Project" campaign will launch nationwide this summer, and an advance look at the campaign is available at shelterpetproject.org.
The HSUS also has a Puppy Buyers Guide with tips on how to find a reputable dog breeder and avoid puppy mills, available online at humanesociety.org/puppy.
For video footage of animal shelters and dogs, go to video.hsus.org.
Top five reasons to adopt your pet:
1. You'll Save a Life. Sadly, three million healthy and treatable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States simply because too many people give up their pets and too few people adopt from shelters. With more pets entering shelters due to the current economic downturn, it's more important than ever to consider adoption and give these pets a chance at a loving home.
2. You'll Get a Healthy Pet. Animal shelters are brimming with happy, healthy animals just waiting for someone to take them home. Most shelters examine and give vaccinations to animals when they arrive, and many spay or neuter them before being adopted. In addition to medical care, more and more shelters also screen animals for specific temperaments and behaviors to make sure each family finds the right pet for its lifestyle.
3. You'll Save Money. Adopting a pet from an animal shelter is much less expensive than buying a pet at a pet store or through other sources. In addition, animals from many shelters are already spayed or neutered and vaccinated, which makes the shelter's fee a real bargain.
4. You'll Feel Better. Pets have a way of putting a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Not only do animals give you unconditional love, but they have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial. Caring for a companion animal can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation in all age groups.
5. You’ll Help Stop Puppy Mills. By adopting instead of buying a pet, you can be certain you aren't supporting cruel puppy mills with your money. Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop purchasing their puppies. Instead of buying, visit your local shelter where you will find healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs—including purebreds—just waiting for that special home—yours.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest
animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans,
or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been
fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education,
and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting
cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.