A Tribute to Bo and Sunny Obama

Bo Obama, left, made a new pal in Sunny, when the family's second Portuguese Water Dog arrived in 2013.
Pete Souza / White House
Bo Obama, left, made a new pal in Sunny, when the family's second Portuguese Water Dog arrived in 2013.

It’s Election Day, and as Americans choose their next president, we want to take a few moments to reflect on the two furriest members of the current first family: Bo and Sunny. 

The delightful Portuguese Water Dogs joined the Obama family after they moved in to the White House. In fact, you may recall that during his 2008 campaign, President Obama promised his young daughters, Sasha and Malia, that they would get a dog if he won — and he over-delivered. 

“Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House,” he said during his historic victory speech in Chicago eight years ago. 

Since then, the first dogs have won the love of the Obamas — and the American people. As their time in the White House comes to a close, we’ve put together a list of the dogs' top five moments in the spotlight.

1. Bo Arrives at the White House

Both the family’s decision to get a dog and Bo’s arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue were closely followed by the media. Born about a month before Obama’s election, the Portie breed was selected in part because of Malia’s allergies. The breed is known for typically being easier for some people with allergies to tolerate. In the spring of 2009, the family welcomed a 6-month-old black-and-white puppy, who was a gift from Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. The pooch, who was born in Texas, went through training in Virginia before joining the family. The Obamas quickly made Bo, who’s pictured here as a puppy running in an East Wing hallway with the president, a member of the family.

2. Man’s Best Friend

The lucky dog has been photographed boarding Air Force One to travel with his family, and he earned a special title: stress-reliever-in-chief. In 2012, Michelle Obama revealed how close she’d become with the pup on the Late Show With David Letterman. “He is my son. I have two girls — and a boy,” she said. And like any proud parent, Obama did a little bragging about Bo, who she said was smart and “well-mannered.” Bo became a media darling and his photos often went viral, including one taken during a 2011 trip to a Virginia pet-supply store with the president.

Bo Obama and President Obama in Oval Office
Pete Souza / White House
President Obama gets an Oval Office visit from Bo.
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