Barack Obama shared on Twitter this morning the beloved former First Dog Bo has died from cancer.
Mr Obama wrote: “Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives – happy to see us on our good days, our bad days and every day in between.
“He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table and had great hair.
“He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.”
Michelle Obama revealed on social media that cancer was the cause of death. She shared happy memories of life with Bo and said that no one was happier than the very good doggo when the Obama family reunited under the same roof due to the pandemic.
“I will always be grateful that Bo and the girls got to spend so much time together at the end.”
Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, was famously promised to the Obama children on the night of Mr Obama’s 2008 election victory. He referenced the soon-to-be new addition to the family in his speech and the world eagerly anticipated his arrival.
“Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine,” he announced at the time. “And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new White House.”
The breed was chosen for its hypo-allergenic qualities as Malia Obama is allergic to dog dander.
At six-months-old in April 2009, Bo was gifted to the family by the late Senator Ted Kennedy. He was named by the Obama children after singer Bo Didley.
Bo became one of the most famous pets in the world – his life at the White House was closely documented by the media and was depicted in several books and TV shows, and had a plush toy of him released.
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The Obamas welcomed a second dog into the family, a girl named Sunny and also a Portuguese Water Dog, in 2012.
Presidential pets are a tradition in the White House – the current titleholders are Joe and Jill Biden’s two German Shepherds Champ and Major, however the younger dog has had some teething issues settling into his new home with two biting incidents.
Before the Obamas, George W. and Laura Bush had five pets including three dogs (Spotty, Barney and Miss Beazley), a cat named Willie and a cow. The Clintons brought with them Socks the cat and welcomed a chocolate Labrador retriever named Buddy during the second term.
Richard Nixon memorably talked about his dog Checkers in a 1952 speech defending himself during a political expenses scandal. The anecdote about his dog served to humanise him and is partly credited with saving his career.
The only president for at least 100 years to not have had a pet in the White House was Donald Trump, who repeatedly used the term “dog” as a pejorative against his critics.