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Names vetted for First Dog

The White House has long been home to pets, some exotic, others ordinary. Not quite human, they bark, mark and cavort around the nation’s capital like furry ids to presidential egos. The Garfields had a dog named Veto. Martin Van Buren, remembered for ruinous decisions, received a pair of tiger cubs from the Sultan of Oman. (Congress shipped them to a zoo.)

Jimmy Carter’s cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, troubled around with dog Grits. William McKinley brought a double-yellow-headed parrot to his post. William Taft had a cow.

The ascendancy of Barack Obama to the highest office in the land has sent spasms of excitement across the globe. Dog lovers are excited, too. "Sasha and Malia, I love you both," the president elect said Tuesday. "Any you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House."

Pet lovers seized on the comment and began, almost instantly, to suggest breeds and names for the First Canine. Early reports suggest that Malia wants a golden retriever/poodle mix, known as a golden doodle, but that has stopped locals from logging their own recommendations.

Cathy Clark of Friends of Animals, a no-kill shelter in Park City, urged the Obamas to adopt a stray rather than buy a purebred. "They need to save a life," she said. "These dogs have lived behind bars."

Saving a dog from a shelter would set a good example for other Americans and, more importantly, it makes families feel good, Clark added. They are also less prone to hip problems and other maladies that arise from inbreeding.

She recommended a medium-sized dog that weighs between 30 and 50 pounds; larger dogs may be too much work for the first family, not to mention intimidating for young girls to play with. "I would call it Hope," she said, "so it would need to be female."

With any dog, no matter the size, some damage is inevitable, professional dog trainer Tonya Landon said. "Something’s going to get broke or something’s going to get peed on," she said. But the comfort and companionship dogs provide, especially for people under pressure, make them worth the work. "I think a dog would be therapeutic for the president and his family," she said. "Dogs are friendly and non-judgmental."

You don’t want a dog marking the White House carpet, though, and training can be beneficial. "If the dog is trained, you don’t need to worry as much," she said.

Landon wants the Obamas to name the puppy Justice if it’s male and Liberty if it’s female. She recommends a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel because the breed is cute for the girls and manly for the president. "I would think a puppy would be too much for the Obamas," she warned. "He’s learning to run the world!"

Breed largely determines personality in dogs, veterinarians insist, but some dogs are naturally more photogenic than others. "Dark-colored dogs don’t photograph well," Landon explained, "because they end up looking like blobs." Instead, she recommended golden retrievers or dogs with spotted coats.

Appearance isn’t everything, though. While Chihuahuas are not up to snuff, comparably sized poodles are on the short list for most Americans. "They respond more like people," said Jordan Snell of Classy Canine Professional Pet Spa Academy. "They require a lot of grooming, but I guess the Obamas could afford it."

Pam Rapplean of Park City Pet Emporium thinks her golden retriever, Sarah, would be a good candidate for the job in disposition and name. "They’re going to have a lot of visitors at the White House," she said. "They need a dog that’s not totally high-energy."

High-energy kids beg to differ. Emily Gordon, a 10 year old at the Colby School, wants to name the dog Victory because of Obama’s historic win. Brendan Mooney, a fifth grader at Parley Park Elementary School, likes the name D.C. for a boy and Cookie Doll for a girl. He said he enjoyed participating in the school’s mock election, which Obama won. "I think it’s cool because he’s the first African-American president." When asked if Obama would make a good pet owner, Brendan responded matter-of-factly. "Of course," he said.

Park City’s name recommendations:

A Beagle named Eagle

– Fifth-grader Ben Lykes

Hope

-Furburbia

McCain

-Silver Creek Animal Clinic

Lincoln

-Jordan Snell of Classy Canine Professional Pet Spa Academy

Liberty or Justice

-Tonya Landon of Diamonds in the Ruff Dog Services

Sarah

-Pam Rapplean


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