Presidential picks for a puppy

As if the pre-inaugural to-do list wasn’t daunting enough, Barack Obama must move quickly to fulfill a promise made to his most important constituency. He has to get his daughters that puppy.

In his acceptance speech Nov. 4 at Grant Park, the president-elect addressed Sasha and Malia.

“I love you both more than you can imagine,” he said. “You’ve earned the new puppy that is coming with us to the White House.”

The whole world was watching. By morning, the Obamas were flooded with advice on how to choose the First Dog. Once again, Obama had shown he could capture the imagination of red and blue Americans alike. And once again, they resorted to partisan bickering.

The American Kennel Club, which has been on the case for months, urged the Obamas to get a poodle. An August poll of 42,000 Americans selected the breed largely because of its low-dander coat. (Malia has allergies.) Animal-welfare groups chimed in with pleas for the family to adopt a shelter dog, and the humorless wags at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals declared that buying a purebred would be “elitist.”

Get a mutt, people barked. Get an older dog. Get a pit bull and name it Sarah. Bow wow wow.

It’s important to note that the last time we had a Democrat in the White House, he really blew it. The Clintons and their darn cat were joined in their second term by Buddy, a chocolate Labrador retriever. When they moved out, they dumped the cat on Clinton’s secretary, Betty Currie, and took Buddy to their new home in Chappaqua, N.Y., where he was killed by a car while running loose.

From all appearances, Sasha and Malia are, dare we say, a little more responsible. It turns out Malia has been diligently researching dogs for quite some time. The family is leaning toward a “goldendoodle,” a hybrid that combines the affable enthusiasm of a golden retriever with the poodle’s superior intellect and hypoallergenic coat. Even better, they’ve decided to obtain one through a rescue organization. Such groups find new homes for unwanted dogs, often specializing in a particular breed or type.

If you’d like to rescue a goldendoodle (or any dog), you’ll find plenty of options via Google, though if your heart is set on a puppy, you’ll likely have to wait a little longer than you would if you happened to be the next president’s darling daughters. But let’s not hear a peep from anyone about that undemocratic perk. As their father says, they’ve earned it – just as they’ve earned the right to decide which bundle of fur is going to be digging up the White House lawn and gnawing on the taxpayers’ furniture.

We got to pick the president. Let Sasha and Malia pick the puppy.

Chicago Tribune editorial

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

MCT Campus