"He's a Star": Barack Obama on Bo
Photo: Cliff Owen / AP
There are dogs called Elvis or Snow White, Hägar or Fabienne - all good, solid, wonderful names for dear companions.
But a dog, which its breeder christened New Hope immediately after birth, seemed destined from the beginning to do something bigger than just chewing on slippers and using a specially stretched lying technique to take up a lot of space on the human sofa: 2009 brought in a lot of space young Portuguese water dog of this name to perhaps the most powerful dog in the world, at least to the first dog of the USA.
The then presidential family Obama changed its meaningful name to a less pretentious alternative: The little dog was renamed Bo when he moved to the Obama's White House in April 2009 at the age of six months. Barack Obama had already promised his two daughters during the election campaign that if he won, a dog would also move into the new home, and so Malia and Sasha were finally allowed to choose his name. The Obama girls named their dog Bo because that was the name of their cousin's cat and because their maternal grandfather was called "Diddley" in memory of blues musician Bo Diddley.
Even if Bo as DOTUS, the Dog Of The United States, had no ceremonial duties to perform, as Barack Obama's dog he immediately became part of the presidential symbol system. And right after his move into the Puppy political issue, because Obama had previously publicly considered adopting an animal welfare dog. However, the future family member should also be compatible with Malia, who suffers from an allergy, which is why only a few breeds were considered due to their special coat properties - including the Portuguese water dog. So it became a breeder's animal after all. Bo was a gift from Senator Edward Kennedy, who owned several water dogs himself, and - if not an exemplary adopted animal shelter - at least a second chance dog: According to reports, his first owners wanted to give him back,who had bought him as company for an older bitch, which Bo then mistakenly took for his mother. His constant attempts to suckle caused irreconcilable irritation.
Not burdened with any particular image
Bo and the Obamas: uncomplicated, smart closeness to the people
Photo: MICHAEL REYNOLDS / EPA
Not only his name, but also his coat color seemed fatefully coordinated with the political arena: with a black-tan coat and white chest, Bo wore a natural tuxedo and was automatically dressed appropriately for most formal receptions. He was part of a long tradition of presidential pets going back to George Washington. His direct predecessors in office were Ronald Reagens Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rex (although Reagan, remarkably breed flexible, had a Flemish cattle dog, a husky and an Irish setter, among others), George HW Bush's Springer Spaniel Millie, Bill Clinton's Labrador Buddy and George W. Bushs Scottish Terriers Barney and Miss Beazley - all bought according to Harry Truman's doctrine, "If you want a boyfriend in Washington, get a dog."
The fact that Bo was a Portuguese water dog was initially confusing, symbolically speaking, because this breed had no particular image at the time - just not a defensive German shepherd and not a cheerful poodle, not even a terrier disreputable as a calf-biter.
A real, doggo-like new beginning, change with floppy ears.
Bo's hairstyle, on the other hand, was symbolic on closer inspection, precisely because it seemed so inconspicuous: it radiated uncomplicated, smart closeness to the people.
Instead of the traditional lion hairstyle for his breed, which - similar to the classic royal poodle hairstyle - provides for a shaved rump, Bo wore an uncomplicated and less dodgy everyday hairstyle.
Above, below, sides: everything sheared the same length according to sheep style.
The only little extravaganza: his undulating tail tassel.
Obama's pictures with Bo, jogging the dog through the corridors of the White House or scratching his back in the Oval Office, looked like affable "one of you" flags: the sovereign, governing president as a silly ball-throwing employee who crawls around on the floor while wrestling with his pet, that at least immediately captured the not-so-small electorate of the dog people for him. "He may be the leader of the free world," wrote the New York Times when Bo was officially introduced to the press in 2009, "but he still has to take the dog for a walk." According to a plausible psychological theory, politicians like to keep dogs because their relationship to the animal can also reflect their relationship to the people - because voters subconsciously think in the place of the dog. If that actually works,It can't hurt a president to occasionally run after his dog, which is not always obedient, instead of urging the animal, which has always been kept submissive, to his side.
"Commander in leash"
"He's a star and he has star qualities," Barack Obama said when he first met Bo. There was an official Bo trading card sold by the White House, a children's book called "Bo, America's Commander in Leash," and of course Bo also modeled various stuffed animals. Above all, however, he was a beloved family member, as Barack and Michelle Obama now explained with touching words in their obituaries for Bo on social media. His family has lost a real friend and loyal companion, wrote Barack - and then squeezes a little pince-nez against the incumbent president in his dog obituary when he writes that Bo barked mightily but never bit: Joe Biden's German Shepherd Major, now actually the first animal welfare dog in the White House, was recently repeatedly noticed by snap incidents.
From Michelle Obama's words, however, one reads more of the inconsolable pain of the dog man.
It was also she who decided in 2013 that Bo needed more dogmate company and therefore bought the water dog Sunny, which the Obamas now has.
Bo should actually be a playmate for her daughters, writes Michelle on Instagram: "We had no idea how much he would mean to all of us."
Of course, anyone who has ever watched a dog crack a person's heart can understand that.
The dog is the great equalizer, regardless of whether he is telling an astrophysicist, a cleaning man or a president.
And when he leaves, it hits the people who loved him equally hard - no matter who they are.
On Saturday, Bo died of cancer at the age of 12.