Tales from the Trail

Bo braves rabies shots to share Obama Hawaii holiday

Bo may lead a life of perks and treats at the White House, but the first dog still had to get rabies shots like any other canine visiting Hawaii in order to share the holidays with the president and first family. OBAMA/

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that Bo received two rabies vaccinations, an implanted electronic microchip and had to have a blood test to ensure that he was rabies-free.

Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, told the newspaper that the White House started the process for Bo after the first family completed their Hawaiian Christmas vacation last year.

“Hawaii is the only rabies-free state,” Saneishi said, “and that is the only reason for these restrictions.”

First lady Michelle and the Obama daughters Malia and Sasha arrived on Hawaii on Saturday, but President Barack Obama stayed behind in Washington to support legislation he wants Congress to pass before the end of the year. The White House says he won’t leave town until Congress goes home for Christmas, which will likely mean a departure on Wednesday.

Recycled newspapers, “Bo-Zilla” deck the White House halls

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The White House sometimes may not know what to do with reporters’ questions, but it appears to have made good use of their work this holiday season - using old magazines and newspapers to help deck the halls. The recycled publications were used to make sparkling golden wreaths and trees adorning the “Green Room,” which is decorated with the theme of recycling and reusing ordinary materials.

This year’s decorations at the executive mansion – with an overarching theme of “Simple Gifts” — include 19 trees. One  is covered with red, white and blue ornaments commemorating the branches of the U.S. military, and topped with a hand-made dove, symbolizing peace. Beside the tree is a basket filled with cards on which visitors can write messages, and a mailbox to send the messages to troops serving overseas.

A large figure of Bo, the Obama family dog, wearing a picture of himself on a red collar, is the focal point of an area decorated to depict “A Child’s Joy.”   A tree showcases gingerbread ornaments decorated by 300 children of members of all branches of the U.S. military. Nearby is the figure of the shaggy family pet, made of 40,000 black and white pipe cleaners.  “It’s pretty, pretty shocking,” first lady Michelle Obama told children attending a preview of the decorations. “But it’s very cool and he’s very soft.”

Dad, did you have to?

USA/There are certain upsides to life as a first daughter — travel on Air Force One, White House sleepovers, your new dog Bo — but there are definitely downsides, like when you are 11 years old and your dad tells the world about how you got a C on your science test.

Parents could imagine the groans when President Barack Obama veered away from his prepared remarks during a speech at a Wisconsin middle school on Wednesday to talk about his own sixth-grade daughter and her 73.

“So Malia came home the other day.  She had gotten a 73 on her science test,” Obama said.  “Now, she’s a 6th grader.  There was a time a couple years ago when she came home with like an 80-something and she said, ‘I did pretty well.’  And I said, ‘No, no, no.  That’s’ — I said, ‘Our goal is — Our goal is 90 percent and up.’” 

Official Obama family portrait is in, Bo is not

The official portrait of the first family is in.

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There’s Sasha, the youngest at 8 years old, casually draping her arm over the shoulder of the president of the United States.

Older sister Malia embraces her mom, first lady Michelle Obama, as they all sit for their first official first family portrait in the Green Room at the White House on Sept. 1.

It is the work of portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, known for some of the most famous celebrity photographs of our time — Demi Moore pregnant and nude on the cover of Vanity Fair, and a nude John Lennon curled around Yoko Ono for the cover of Rolling Stone taken on the day of Lennon’s death. OBAMA/

First draft: Paybacks

USA/Things are looking up on Wall Street. What will Washington have to say?

Goldman Sachs, coming off a strong earnings report, may try to pay back its $5 billion government loan early, so it can get out from under mandated salary caps. This move could reduce the cost of the financial bailout but also rekindle public anger about Wall Street greed. Look for a response from the Obama administration today.

Outside of Wall Street, the real economy continues to crumble. Retail sales unexpectedly fell in March as motor vehicle and electronic purchases declined, and prices paid to farmers and manufacturers posted their strongest yearly decline since 1950 as energy prices slipped, according to government figures released early Tuesday.

Obama speaks about the economy at Georgetown University at 11:30.

Congress is out of town this week, but that won’t stop a prominent congressional watchdog from releasing its report on wasteful spending.   Citizens Against Government Waste unveils its annual “pig book” at 10:00.

Just say “Bo” – Obama White House unveils first dog

USA/The Obama White House on Sunday unveiled the first family’s new pet, a 6-month-old male Portuguese Water Dog named Bo.
    
The black-and-white, curly-haired Bo was a gift to Obama daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, from Senator Ted Kennedy and will take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave on Tuesday.
    
President Barack Obama had promised his daughters a new puppy during his campaign for the White House. In January, he told reporters the front-runner breeds were a Portuguese Water Dog and a Labradoodle.
    
The Web site of Dog Breed Info Center describes the Portuguese Water Dog as a hardy, muscular, medium-sized dog that grows to about 20-22 inches (51-56 cm) tall and is “lively but sensible, and loyal.”
    
“Bear in mind that this extremely intelligent dog will take liberties if it feels it is stronger-minded than its owners,” the center said. “This breed may out-think its owner!”
    
Online advertisements by U.S. and Canadian breeders quote prices for Portuguese Water Dogs at between $2000 and $2900.
    
The water-loving breed gets its name from its long history of helping Portuguese fisherman herd and catch fish, retrieve tackle, and carry messages between ships.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Pete Souza-The White House/Handout – Bo, a 6-month-old male Portuguese Water Dog, is seen in this White House photograph released April 12, 2009.