My Thoughts On the First Dog

Ever since there was a leak that the first dog was going to be from a breeder, people have not been able to stop talking about. Some people are happy about it, some are upset over it and yet others claim not to care yet they still take the time to comment about how little they care. I will say I am one of those that am disappointed by the news. I loved the “mutt like me” idea and was looking forward to the amount of exposure shelters and rescues would get if the Obama’s adopted a dog. I know that President Obama never outright promised that they were going to adopt a rescue dog but, let’s be honest, that was what we were being led to believe would happen. I fully understand that there was a need for a hypoallergenic dog. I know that this greatly reduced the number of options the family had. I have no problem with that. I will admit that I was rooting for the mutt route, i.e. the Labradoodle. I have never owned a purebred in my life but that certainly doesn’t mean that I have anything against them. I just thought it would be that much more poignant an example. Still, I would have been perfectly thrilled had they adopted a Portuguese Water Dog. I know finding one in a shelter would have been difficult but there are breed rescues. Some people claim that not getting one from a breeder would still put Malia Obama at risk since their background might be unknown but I think that’s just an excuse. You could easily get a DNA test on the dog for as low as $50 and the results would have come back well in time to have the dog arrive on Easter (they’ve been searching for months now). I realize that the dog was a gift and so the Obama family didn’t really have much say in the matter but I still feel that this was a huge missed opportunity for raising awareness of animal welfare in this country. That being said, I don’t understand why there is a such a huge fuss.

I’ve read innumerable articles on the subject at this point and most of them have sounded very grounded and reasonable. It seems to me that the people that comment on these articles are the ones with the biggest problems. Some of the comments are downright nasty and to be honest, it’s not the people disappointed that seems to be the most hot-headed. I’ve seen people personally attacking those who have voiced their displeasure and it makes me wonder just what kind of life those people lead if the best way they can find to spend their life is finding people to hate. And some of the things they say are just downright ridiculous. I can’t tell you the number of people that have said the whole situation is stupid because a dog is just a dog and we have so many other problems to worry about in this country. Well no kidding! No one in their right mind would think that the selection of the first dog is more important than the War in Iraq or the collapsing economy. There are plenty of issues that are personally important to me that haven’t been addressed either but I’m patient. That doesn’t mean that we can’t be disappointed with what happened in this case. Other comments have said that the “animal activists” are cruel because they’re saying that the dog should be ripped away from the girls who love him. I have a problem with this one for a few reasons. First not everyone who is disappointed is an activist. Second, calling someone an activist is always used in a derogatory manner which is stupid. Lastly, no one has ever suggested that they get rid of the dog! Not a single person. However, the children only met the dog after he had been chosen so it wasn’t like they just happened to fall in love with that particular dog. I also don’t like the suggestion that Bo is a rescue dog. He’s not. At all. He may be a second-chance dog because the first people that got him didn’t want him anymore but there is absolutely no way that dog would ever have ended up in a shelter. The breeder, who is actually very responsible from what I’ve seen, would have taken the dog back and found another home for him. It’s in the contract. That’s how all breeders should be and I commend this one for their policies. Still, this means that Bo was not rescued in any way. Now probably the dumbest and most irritating comment I came across was one praising President Obama for choosing a breeder dog because adopting one from a shelter would be “reinforcing all the irresponsible pet owners dumping their pets there”. This one just shocked me. Are people really that stupid? Shelters house countless strays and with this economy there are many people FORCED to surrender their beloved pets due to a lack of money or even the lack of a house. It is idiotic ideas such as that one that make some people leery of adopting from a shelter or rescue. My last comment on some of the excuses being thrown around is that while I’m glad that donations have been made to shelters that the Obama family were looking into that doesn’t really fix the problem. It’s a great gesture, don’t get me wrong, but it’s still not the message that so many people were hoping for the decision to send. This to me says that shelters are great but they’re just not good enough for us. If less people would think like that then there would surely be less animals sitting around in shelters.

That being said, I’m pretty sure that President Obama would never intentionally send such a message and that he truly does have concern for animal welfare. This decision fell short of my hopes but there are plenty of other causes that he can get behind that will help improve the lives of animals in this and other countries. And Bo is an incredibly cute dog and what really matters at this point is that he is cared for and happy. He still has a chance to be a role model of sorts for how pets should be cared for and that is something that is invaluable. So yes, many were disappointed, as they had every right to be, but I think it’s time that everyone start to move on and focus on other animal welfare causes that can still be supported to our satisfaction.

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4 Responses to “My Thoughts On the First Dog”

  1. Nikki says:

    I agree with you that the focus should now be on Bo and how he is treated. I was disappointed as well that he did not come from a shelter or PWD Rescue, but there’s nothing to be done about it now. I hope the Obama girls take good care of their new puppy and they make him very happy.

  2. Leigh says:

    I pretty much agree with everything that you’ve said here. I am sure, of course, that he’ll have a pretty good life as the spoiled White House pooch, and I think it’s great that the Obamas are making shelter donations.

    I also think it’s interesting that people are blaming the Obamas for the choice as much as they are — the dog was, after all a gift, and even though he came through a reputable breeder, he’s still on his second home. I think that this is just as much a chance to showcase the difference between a reputable breeder and a puppy mill as much as it is to showcase the needs of shelter dogs.

    And, well, if all rescues have to come from ‘shelters,’ then only my cat counts as a rescued animal. Not the mite-infested green tree pythons I rescued from a women who wanted to be the reptile-equivalent of a backyard-breeder, or the sick, starved leopard gecko baby I saved from being thrown in the trash at PetCo, or the blue beauty snake that I took in once his original owner told me that he was ‘too mean.’

    And, really, we should be supporting taking animals out of those kinds of bad situations, too, even if they aren’t mediated by shelters — shelters do great work (and I ♥ my shelter-kitty) but they can’t do everything. Celebrating giving a pup a new home from one that wasn’t working out is still pretty important.

  3. Laura says:

    You make some good points. I’d just like to say that not all breeders would take a dog back, if it was not adoptable. I work as a volunteer foster mom for a shelter and there are many who are full breed, who are given to the shelter…sometimes with sadness, others with no care at all. I adopted a Lhasa Apso, a Poodle and a Siamese cat from various shelters. They all had social problems and were returned sometimes once, but more often than not…several times. Very few people have the time or the money to cope with the biting, accidents, destructive behavior, etc. plus full breeds have a lot of medical problems. I’m glad that the Obamas had the dog retrained. I hope Bo has a forever home now.

    I wish they had selected a shelter dog, too. I saw a similar dog that was named Freedom on and thought he would have been great. However, since the pet was a gift, not an adoption or a sale, it really is not an issue for me, anymore. I could not have turned such a gift and while the donation may not be enough for some, it may help more than just one shelter dog. It did bring up the discussion and since there was so many people who were upset, I would hope that they would now do more to support their local shelters.

    Thanks for all that you do.

  4. Ashley says:

    Nikki: I hope he’s happy too!

    Leigh: I certainly don’t think an animal needs to be from a shelter or rescue to be considered a rescue dog. If that were the case then several of my animals couldn’t be considered rescues either. I just felt that in this particular situation, he’s not exactly what I was hoping for.

    Laura: That’s a very good issue to point out. I should have been more clear in saying that since this particular breeder was a responsible one and would have taken him back that Bo himself was highly unlikely to end up in a shelter. It is very true that so many people buy purebred dogs and then dump them in a shelter when they realize that owning a dog is actually work. Thank you for rescuing the ones you have! The world needs more people like you.

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