Barack and Michelle and Bo and Sunny

I learned everything I needed to know about the Obamas from watching their behavior as dog owners. Take this photo, for example.

Bo pulling Barack

Every time I see it, I wonder how Cesar Millan feels about the Obama presidency now; he was a big fan of Obama when Barack was running the first time. And when the First Family was looking for their first dog, the Dog Whisperer publicly offered to help them get the right dog for their family.

They ignored him and went with the political choice, a dog from Ted Kennedy’s kennel. And they named him Bo, though they claimed it was not after Barack Obama, but after Bo Diddly. Riiiiiiiiiight. This six-month-old, untrained dog had been returned to the Kennedy kennel by its first owner! Makes you wonder if Ted took a tax deduction for foisting him off on the First Family.

I can’t imagine anything worse than a large, high-energy hunting breed for this family living with a still-small child in a rented city apartment full of borrowed antiques.  It’s clear from the earliest photos that Sasha was actually afraid of Bo.  She’s bigger now and the dogs are better trained, but I still haven’t seen any photos of her holding a leash or getting close to either of the dogs.

I love dogs and followed Bo’s career for a long while. Despite Barack and Michelle’s public proclamations that the GIRLS would be responsible for all of their puppy’s care and training, there are very few images of ANY of the Obamas exercising Bo. The few I have seen show this leash-pulling canine who clearly disrespects the human on the other end.

Google “bo and sunny dog pic” and check out the photos. Most are of the dogs alone or with a handler. When they bring the dogs out for a PR event, Michelle and Malia hold a leash, but where I’ve been able to see a sequence, it’s clear the dog is brought to them for a PR show walk, then taken away again.  My guess is that Bo’s real Alpha is the trainer/groomer who, if reports are true, pulls down 6 figures. Taxpayers foot that bill, of course.

A while back, the Obamas adopted a second member of the same large, high-energy, hunting breed.  One can only hope Bo’s Alpha is taking care of both dogs for the same exorbitant salary. It’s probably a lot better for Bo to have a doggy buddy to run with, but knowing the Obamas, I expect they were more motivated by Barack’s bad press than by Bo’s canine comfort. It must’ve been a real bummer for them when Sunny’s arrival didn’t generate even a thousandth of the breathless media drool-age that Bo’s did.

And check out this fiasco from just six months ago. This is Sunny, Bo’s “sister” at a Christmas party for small and disabled children.

2013_12 05 Sunny Obama knocks down 2 year old

If you’ve never watched The Dog Whisperer, you might not understand just how much is wrong with the whole scenario. For starters, it was totally avoidable, since Sunny was obviously not ready for an exciting event like meeting a room full of children and food smells.

Bringing her to the party at all was a questionable decision and it’s clear that Michelle had no control. She should have been holding Sunny’s collar, not her leash, and the collar should have been a choke chain that would provide the kind of control one needs over a large, strong, undisciplined dog who is entering a potentially excitement-rich environment.

2013_12 05 Sunny Obama knocks down 2 year old cut

I totally believe Michelle loves children and that Sunny just wanted to play. But look at the photos. What Michelle and Sunny did to that little girl is like a perfect little parable of the Obama White House:

  • They ignore experts and behave as if they already know everything worth knowing.
  • They choose the political over the responsible and the easy over the challenging.
  • And they end up hurting others and embarrassing themselves.

If they wanted to bring the dog to this party, Michelle should have retrieved her outside the room, then kept her at heel in the the doorway and, only when the dog was calm, should Michelle have initiated the entrance into the room by stepping through first and then allowing the dog to enter. This simple maneuver would’ve established for Sunny that Michelle was Alpha.

Once in the room, Sunny should not have been allowed near the crowd of children and food, but instead taken to a quiet corner by Michelle who should have put her in a Down/Stay until Sunny was thoroughly calm and ready to greet ONE older child who knew how to maintain an Alpha presence and who had an adult very nearby to protect the child from a sudden, playful lunge.

And all of this could’ve been done with a running commentary about what Michelle was doing with the dog and why. The children would have learned some valuable life lessons and Michelle and Sunny would’ve been covered in glory.


Filed under Barack Obama, Michelle Obama

6 responses to “Barack and Michelle and Bo and Sunny

  1. Outstanding overview with an excellent three-point parable. Man, CtH, when you’re on your game and not knee-deep in arcane calendar ruminations, you really knock it outta the park. Glad you’re on our side. 🙂


    • chrissythehyphenated

      And yet I feel very much on my game when I’m knee-deep in arcane calendar ruminations. You’re more than welcome to scroll right on past anything that doesn’t interest you and to refrain from making snarky back-handed compliments.


      • cth > You’re more than welcome to scroll right on past anything that doesn’t interest you and to refrain from making snarky back-handed compliments.

        I don’t know if this Jane Dough intended snark or not, but let’s face it, the scriptural-historical-astronomical studies get pretty arcane, like any esoteric knowledge, unless one has been deeply into it and following it all. I want to follow your work, but scroll past more often than I’d like, so much of it remains “arcane,” for me, anyway, for now.

        Count yourself lucky. If I read them more deeply, I’d probably be pummeling you with questions or, much worse, my own tsunami of probably only marginally related thoughts!!

        And Dough’s certainly right about your Babe Ruth-like record. The “other things” – about common political matters – being more accessible, are easier to repeat, or otherwise pass along.

        “Esoteric” is, at least in my meaning, not a valuation per se, but a reference to being inside a complicated system of understanding I haven’t grasped, and I wish I could find a better way to put that. I’ve been deep into a few esoteric thought-systems myself, from religion to computers.

        There’s valuable and there’s worthless, too, and sometimes you have to get pretty deep into something to find out which is which, sometimes beyond reason and perception, with only the Spirit of Truth as your guide.

        Often, there’s that gem of divine value hidden deep in the biggest pile of… error. Of course, that’s not a great reward system. Makes one keep digging through piles of… error… for such rare gems, when over at the diamond mine everyone else is picking them up off the ground.

        (Heh. Like that?)


  2. Violet

    Right on, Chrissy! Great post!


  3. Pistol Pete

    that’s gonna leave a mark.


  4. Good post, Chrissy. I like dogs, but I’ve never owned one myself, so I know nothing about training them. It’s helpful to have someone who really understands dog psychology and behavior to explain these things to me.

    Those pictures of the Obamas’ dog knocking over the little girl gave me a flashback to something that happened many years ago, that I still shudder to think about. When my now 19-year-old was a little girl, I took her to see the Shrine Circus, which takes place every summer in an indoor arena at the county fairgrounds — a multi-purpose building that gets used as an ice arena in the winter, and for the county fair and other events in the summer. It’s not at all suited to a circus that involves large animals, but they do it there anyway. There are bleachers on one side of the arena, but they don’t accommodate many bodies, so the organizers set up hundreds of folding chairs around the other three sides of the space, and there are only the smallest of token barriers separating the audience from the performance space. On this particular day, a large number of people in wheelchairs had been brought in to see the show, so all the folding chairs were removed from one side of the room to accommodate the wheelchairs.

    Well, midway through the show, one of the elephants freaked out in the middle of her act (the organizers said later that it was the trainer’s fault — the elephant’s usual trainer was absent for some reason, so rather than cancel the act, they went ahead with a trainer who was not sufficiently experienced) — anyway, she freaked out and took off for the nearest exit, knocking over several spectators and scattering many others on her way out. One child suffered a broken arm, but miraculously, that was the most serious injury that occurred, because the elephant had (fortunately) chosen to exit through a group of able-bodied people with fast reflexes, and not through the crowd of wheelchair-bound spectators just a short distance away. I don’t even like to think of what would have happened if she had chosen to take off through that group of people, but it would be surprising if there had not been several deaths.