President-Elect Press Conference Turns to Puppy
In his first press conference since the election, President-elect Barack Obama addressed his family's hunt for a hypoallergenic puppy. (Pet Pulse Photo by The Associated Press)
NEW YORK -- In his first press conference following the election, President-elect Barack Obama promised on Friday afternoon to confront more than the economy "head on."
"With respect to the dog, this is a major issue," said, Obama, responding to a reporter's inquiry about his promise to get his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, a dog to take with them to the White House.
"I think it has generated more interest on our Web site than just about anything," the Illinois Senator jokingly told the crowd of journalists and advisers.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, began to discuss the prospect of including a furry addition to their family unit several months ago on the campaign trail. Whether or not he won the election, Obama then promised Malia and Sasha, they would still be rewarded a dog.
On election night, he appeared to stand true to his promise, telling his daughters during his victory speech, "You've earned the puppy that is coming with us to the White House."
Easier said than done, though, as Obama expressed at his press conference, highlighting the major factors the family now faces in searching for the perfect pet.
"We have two criteria that have to be reconciled," he said. "One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic ... On the other hand our preference is to get a shelter dog, but obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me."
The coy comparison earned Obama a few laughs -- and additional press coverage -- but some shelters are now trying to counter the claim that shelters are overrun with only mixed-breeds that tend to shed.
The New York Post profiled a prospective White House doggy candidate today, a 10-pound Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix from the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, Long Island.
The Winona Area Humane Society, in Winona, Minn., also offered up a 2-year-old Lhasa Apso-poodle mix and a Sharpei puppy. Both breeds would have minimal effects on Malia's allergies, shelter staff say.
Other potential breeds the Obama family can consider include poodles, Goldendoodles, Portuguese water dogs and soft-coated Wheaton Terriers, all of which have hair and not fur.
Regardless of the choice the Obama family eventually reaches, dog-lovers and political junkies alike will certainly document the decision making process. Obama appeared keenly aware of the attention the issue will continue to receive -- especially in his own home.
"So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue in the Obama household," he said.
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Pet Pulse reporter Amy Lieberman, The New York Post and The Winona Daily News contributed to this article.
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