Spokane Dog Owners Say First Family Made Good Choice

SPOKANE — President Obama and his family have picked out a new family pet, and one Spokane dog owner says the first family has made a good choice in both breed and companionship.

It’s been one of the biggest secrets of President Obama’s first few months in office, but on Tuesday a Portuguese water dog named Bo will move into the White House.

The Portuguese water dog is a rare breed in the Spokane area. One of those dogs is Sophie, a five-year-old dog who lives on the South Hill.

Sophie’s mom and dad say they completely understand the Obama’s decision to pick a dog just like her.

“Oh she is so entertaining and so much fun,” said owner Patti Petersen.  

For the Petersons, Sophie is a companion a family clown, and a guard dog. 

“She sounds like she’ll take your hand off when you come to the gate,” Peterson said.

She’s been turning heads her whole life, but until now, very few people recognized what breed she is. 

“When we go walking with Sophie people think she’s a poodle, hardly anyone knows about a Portuguese water dog,” Peterson said.

The most recent addition to the Obama’s family changed all that.

“People who know the breed say it’s probably not the best first dog, but I know they’ll have the best of trainers, that’s the key,” said Peterson.

Portuguese water dogs, known as exceptional swimmers, were originally bred to help Portuguese fisherman go about their work. They retrieved broken nets, dove for fish, and even carried messages between boats and to shore.

Although Sophie and the first dog don’t have to worry about any of these strenuous activities, Petersen says there are tricks to caring for these energetic house dogs, starting with hair.

“Since they have hair, you need to get them groomed quite often, because they keep growing,” Peterson said.

Patti also warns that dog’s like Sophie need to be busy and they need to have a master.

“A dog that needs to have a job to do,” Peterson said. “Need to be told who’s boss, because if you’re not willing to make the rules, they are.”

Petersen says there are not any local breeders for Portuguese water dogs, so if you want one then the closest place you can go is western Washington.