Obama Dog Watch: Finalists in the Hunt for a Dog

The Obama family is nearing a decision on the breed for the first dog.

Before President-elect Barack Obama began his interview on the ABC program “This Week,” which was broadcast Sunday, his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, asked the host, George Stephanopoulos, to slip in this question: “What kind of a dog are we getting, and when are we getting it?”

When asked, Mr. Obama laughed “They seem to have narrowed it down to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound,” he said, adding that the next step is to canvass shelters.

“We’re closing in on it,” he said. “This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary,” a reference to the recent withdrawal by Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as his original selection for that post.

Both breeds — a Labradoodle at top, a Portuguese water dog below — were chosen to reduce Malia’s allergy to dogs and have big Democratic backers. Senator Edward M. Kennedy owns two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash, which often flank him as he walks the halls of the Capitol. Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has a Labradoodle (part Labrador retriever, part poodle) named Brother.

Fulfilling his promise to get a dog is just one of the personal decisions that Mr. Obama and his family face as they settle into Washington.

Mr. Obama said the family planned to visit a number of churches to see “what’s comfortable.” Every president since James Madison has attended St. John’s, the Federal-style Episcopal church across Lafayette Square from the White House. But several predominantly black churches are eager to lure the Obamas, like Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, where Bill Clinton twice attended inaugural prayer services.

One family matter that appears to be going well is the Obama girls’ transition to their new school, Sidwell Friends.

“They seemed to thrive,” Mr. Obama said in the interview of their first week at the private school. “I’m trying to figure out why it is that they don’t seem to be fazed by anything.

“People think — you know, folks think I’m cool. They are a lot cooler than I am. They just don’t seem to be intimidated.”

[Source: The New York Times]