Portuguese water dog 'Bo' joins first family

ByMaria Puente, USA TODAY via via logo
April 12, 2009, 9:21 PM

— -- Never have so many gotten so excited about so little. The White House puppy has been appointed, at last, and Washington is in a barking frenzy.

And, of course, it was leaked. Shocking.

The puppy, a Portuguese water dog, as anticipated, is 6 months old and black and white. It was named Bo by Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, apparently in honor of their maternal grandfather, who went by the nickname Diddley.

The Washington Post claimed credit for the name scoop in its Sunday editions while also reporting that it had been itself scooped, upsetting a deal the newspaper worked out with the White House to get "the puppy exclusive."

Naturally, for this day and age, two websites got there first: the celebrity news site TMZ.com and a heretofore unknown site called FirstDogCharlie.com, which posted a picture Saturday of Bo wearing a colorful Hawaiian lei around his neck.

The White House at first denied that the picture was legit, then released its own picture of the dog, which was taken several weeks ago during a secret White House meeting between the Obamas and Bo. Both pictures appeared to be of the same dog, including the lei.

On Friday, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, press secretary to first lady Michelle Obama, denied there would be any puppy news over the weekend. After the leaks, she released few other details except that Bo will be introduced formally on Tuesday.

Where is Bo now? Was he a gift from U.S. Sen. (and Portie promoter) Ted Kennedy, who has three of the bushy-haired dogs? Lelyveld wouldn't say, but Kennedy released a statement. "We couldn't be happier to see the joy that Bo is bringing to Malia and Sasha," Kennedy said.

Meanwhile, TMZ said it had lots of detail about the dog by late Friday, but Lelyveld declined to confirm or deny any of it on Sunday. It was not known who is behind FirstDogCharlie.com or where its information came from.

If Washington is fixated on the White House puppy, it's fair to say the obsession was stoked by President Obama, who has repeatedly teased the media with tidbits. As recently as Friday, after Obama made a statement on the economy, a reporter asked about the puppy, again.

"Oh, man, now, that's top-secret," Obama said with a laugh.

A secret not so tightly held, as it turned out.

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