So Malia and Sasha Obama finally get their dog! And he's adorable. And because dog people are insane, there is actually a debate about it. The dog is a purebred, from a breeder, not a shelter mutt, which Obama had claimed to prefer. Edward and Victoria Kennedy gave the children the 6-month-old puppy, a purebred black-and-white Portuguese Water Dog, after learning that the Texas breeder of their own dogs had had a littermate of their pup returned.
Right there is the reason this controversy is misguided. Bo's breeder had a contract with each person who bought a puppy from her; the contract said that if the pairing didn't work out, the puppy would be returned to the breeder. That is one very big sign that a dog breeder is ethical. Puppy mills don't do that. Large-scale breeders, by and large, don't do that. They can't afford to. Ethical breeders don't just produce puppies, they compete their own dogs and work hard to improve their breed by careful health and temperament screenings. Bo's breeder is a Martha Stern of Amigo Portuguese Water Dogs. I know nothing of her or her dogs, but the signs are good that this is a legitimate AKC breeder.
I love shelter dogs too, and all mine were second-hand, but I dislike the implication that getting a purebred puppy is somehow immoral. Immoral is buying a puppy from a large-scale commercial breeder (aka, a slightly cleaner puppy mill) like Vice President Joseph Biden, who purchased his German Shepherd Dog puppy Champ from Linda Brown's kennels in Pennsylvania. But more about this later, as I don't want to drag that ugliness into this post. Buying a purebred from a good breeder is a perfectly legitimate, ethical and moral way to add a pet to the family. I do kinda wish the Obamas had adopted a shelter dog, but this was fine.
And in case you were wondering, there is a book angle to the story. Bo is going to be the star of a children's book. The book, Bo, America's Commander In Leash is due out on April 30 from Mascot Books
And one of Edward Kennedy's PWDs already has his own children's book, My Senator And Me: A Dog's Eye Of Washington, D.C.
The Obama Dog Blog
Portuguese Water Dog Club of America