Archive for Friday, February 27, 2009

Dog owners fear Obama effect

February 27, 2009


— It’s nothing against the Obamas. But some Portuguese water dog owners aren’t thrilled the breed is a front-runner for the first family.

The choice could mean a spike in the dogs’ popularity — and that could mean a rise in shady breeders and fickle owners who don’t understand the dogs and eventually abandon them, owners of Portuguese water dogs say.

“There’s always the danger of something like that,” said Stu Freeman, president of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. “It’s ’101 Dalmatians’ syndrome.”

After that movie came out, “everyone thought, ‘aren’t they cute,”’ ran out and bought the dogs and found out they were not quite as adorable as the ones in the movie, Freeman said.

First lady Michelle Obama told People magazine that the family is looking to rescue a Portuguese water dog in April, though her press secretary said Thursday that the decision isn’t final. President Barack Obama had also mentioned a Labradoodle as an appealing choice.

“Obviously they have their favorites that the president and first lady have outlined before — with of course the Portuguese water dog being a top contender — but there hasn’t been a selection yet,” Katie McCormick Lelyveld said.

Portuguese water dogs were bred centuries ago to help fishermen along the Portugal coast, working as couriers, retrieving nets and diving for fish.

Even before the Obamas, the dogs’ star was rising — Sen. Ted Kennedy has two.

In 1998, the breed ranked 82nd in popularity, according to American Kennel Club registration statistics. Ten years later, they were ranked 62nd.

Elena Gretch, a dog trainer and owner of two Portuguese water dogs, attributes some of that to the fact that the dog is good for allergy sufferers. Malia Obama, 10, has allergies.

Michelle Obama also praised the dogs’ personality and size in the People magazine interview.

“Temperamentally they’re supposed to be pretty good,” Mrs. Obama said. “From the size perspective, they’re sort of middle of the road — it’s not small, but it’s not a huge dog. And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them. So that’s where we’re leaning.”

Gretch worries that if the Obamas choose the breed, puppy mills will sprout up. The dogs cost $1,800 to $2,500 and aren’t as common as other popular breeds. They’re prone to hip dysplasia, so finding a good breeder is important, she said, and the dogs don’t often end up in shelters for adoption.

The dogs also require a lot of attention, grooming and outdoor exercise. “It’s agile, it’s a great swimmer, it loves to be outdoors,” said Gretch, founder of the pet care and training service It’s A Dog’s Life in New York City.

But Portuguese water dogs are usually not great for first time dog owners, said Freeman, because it takes experience to train them.

“These are dogs that if you don’t keep them busy, they will be busy and do something you don’t want them to do,” he said.

Steve Brooks, a dog trainer who works with celebrities, said he’s already training more Labradors, which may be the result of “Marley & Me.”

After “101 Dalmatians,” the shelter where Daphna Nachminovitch worked was flooded with Dalmatians. Parents broke down and bought the puppies, she said. As the puppies got older and harder to manage, the kids lost interest and the dogs ended up in shelters.

The Obamas have said they plan to adopt from a shelter, something Nachminovitch, now vice president of cruelty investigations for PETA, hopes others will keep in mind.

“With the way the economy is now, animal shelters are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of abandoned animals. It’s certainly not a time to make more dogs,” she said.

“We have plenty of dogs in animal shelters who need a home.”


RoeDapple 9 years ago

The problem here is not the species the Obama's chose, and I applaud them for picking a rescue dog. The problem as I see it is that every time an Obama so much as passes gas the news media thinks the people have a right to know. Lighten up on their personal life a little, we don't need to know every detail of what they were wearing at their most recent meal.

Multi, that toe must be throbbing, your up late (or early)<

Chris Ogle 9 years ago

$2,500 for a dog.... What does it do.. fix dinner.

Flap Doodle 9 years ago

"Dog owners fear Obama effect" So do people who respect the Bill of Rights.

beawolf 9 years ago

On a similar note, the Scottish Terrier's popularity has plummeted. His rating points did go up briefly after biting a reporter.

staff04 9 years ago

So I guess you have no fear then, eh, snap?

One funny but trivial note about the so-called "first dogs." I was fortunate enough to be in the White House once when first dog Barney was brought down from the residence to go out. He has a Secret Service escort that takes him out in the mornings...I just thought it was funny!

jonas_opines 9 years ago

Hey, maybe this time we won't just blindly follow along with the trends of new celebrities!

. . . .


Ok, ok. Probably not.

jaywalker 9 years ago

RoedApple nailed my sentiments. Still waiting with baited breath for the 'Obama prefers boxers to briefs' breaking news item, or perhaps we might be enlightened on his preference for Enzite or Viagra. When will they get to the bottom of his wife's cowlick, her predeliction for halitosis, or the effect of Barrack's foot odor on the new family pet? Does his toe-jam weaken our national security? Will his morning eye-boogers be misconstrued by foreign leaders as a sign of disengagement? Do his children prefer Dora or Spongebob, and does that threaten a specific demographic in terms of market adjustment? Who invented liquid soap and why?

In short.......for the love of @#%!

feeble 9 years ago

more evidence that dogs < cats.

Tony Kisner 9 years ago

I would recommend the same breed my family has. It is an American Humane Society Special. Great breed, and seems to thrive all by it's self.

Makes for a good family dog returns lots of love with out asking for much more than a little food, water and petting. In addition she is a great personal trainer, she will take a walk any time you wish.

Confrontation 9 years ago

It's funny how people post on here that this is a dumb story, or that people shouldn't pay attention to dog Obama is choosing. If you're not interested, then why did you read it? Why are you drawing attention to it?

beawolf 9 years ago


You complain, yet you read the stories and the comments and post your own, rather wordy reply. Perhaps you should be more selective in your reading habits as opposed to criticizing what is being written. Unless you actually enjoy reading the articles for the pleasure of responding negatively.

jaywalker 9 years ago

Thanks so much, confrontation and beawolf, for such insightful opinions. FYI, I read the first two sentences, then retched. How could I possibly be 'drawing attention to it', confron, when readers are already here? Brilliant observation on your part. And beawolf, when did it become a prerequisite on these forums to 'like' a story before reading it or criticizing it? Isn't being critical of something half the reason most post here?
I can't help but notice that you two brain trusts came to this string for the sole purpose of .............commenting on how I view it? Excellent. Talk about two cents from the peanut gallery.

beawolf 9 years ago


Whatever trips your trigger. Masochism is nothing to be ashamed about.

"I can't help but notice that you two brain trusts came to this string for the sole purpose of ………….commenting on how I view it?".... You flatter yourself. As a dog owner I enjoyed the article.

"Isn't being critical of something half the reason most post here? ".... All too true.

Acey 9 years ago

•EACH SHELTER PET IS UNIQUE!• Agnostick: " will send some folks scrambling to get a dog “just like the president....” LOL! Who can say whether there is a pooch out there that meets •this• expectation?
But otherwise, I agree with everything you said. The First Family should first commit to adopting their dog from a shelter. A lot of people would be happy to help by checking out the MANY mixed breed animals that fit their requirements. No one who loves animals goes wrong visiting shelters, TRYING to find a dog "just like the president's," or a cat that they will love for many years.

beawolf 9 years ago

"No one who loves animals goes wrong visiting shelters, TRYING to find a dog “just like the president's,” or a cat that they will love for many years."


We did exactly that, but fell for a dog totally opposite of what we were looking for. The main thing is to visit a shelter first.

sustainabilitysister 9 years ago

don't breed or buy while shelter animals die

KansasVoter 9 years ago

hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says… "There is a woman in California with a litter of eight , that will be needing a home."

If those 14 kids were cats or dogs the ASPCA would have taken them away by now.

jaywalker 9 years ago

" You flatter yourself. As a dog owner I enjoyed the article."

And yet you chose not to comment on the article whatsoever, only on my opinion.
I have a pup too. My revulsion here, if the point was lost, is that Obama hiccuping is a news development. It's overkill.

"The way I see it, this is another great day for America"

Because the Obama's chose a Portuguese water dog? I guess when you set standards that low you're bound to see anything as a 'great day for America'.

beatrice 9 years ago

As long as they don't get that new breed called a "Neo-Con": all it ever does is breaks things then tries to blame the cat, whines constantly -- and I mean constantly -- whenever it doesn't get its way or is attempted to be trained, will gorge on the food in the bowl and then complain when the other dogs are given food, and it doesn't play well with any other breed. After people have been around them for a while, sometimes it takes as long as 8 dog years, they tend to set this new breed of mongrel outside so they can't get their paws on anything else and cause any more damage. Although they continue to yammer on and on, you can pretty much go about trying to clean up the mess they left behind while ignore their crying. Owners find they need to keep a steady supply of towels on hand to clean up the dog's tears.

beawolf 9 years ago

"And yet you chose not to comment on the article whatsoever, only on my opinion.".... I assumed that's why you posted, unless you were just typing to yourself.

Beatrice, I loved your post. Best laugh I've had this week.

RoeDapple 9 years ago

Multi - We got our Keeshond from an animal rescue organization, took years to talk the Mrs. into getting a dog but when she saw this one she had to have it. We were very lucky, it was from a home where the elderly owners couldn't give it the attention it needed and not from a puppy mill. He moved in like he owns the place, eats better than we do!

Confrontation 9 years ago

I completely agree, bennyoates. I enjoy seeing these losers cry about Obama. Look at Jaywalker, continuing to obsess about a story that he/she claims he/she hasn't read.

yoornotmee 9 years ago

The title of this article made me fear that Obama was somehow implementing a nationwide breed-specific ban. I'm glad to see that's not the case :)

beatrice 9 years ago

hawk, so why exactly would a parrot in the White House speak "ebonics?"

Oh.... I get it. Obama is black, and in your little world ALL blacks speak ebonics -- even those who obviously don't.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.