Thursday, April 16, 2009


The First Puppy


TO: Bo, The First Puppy

FROM: Oreo the Portuguese Water Dog

My owner tells me that you have just been chosen by the Obama family to be The First Puppy. Congratulations, Bo. That’s quite an honor. But before you get too carried away with all the attention, best to heed a few lessons from someone who’s already been around the block a few times, so to speak.

For starters, your biggest asset is that you’re cute. Believe me, that will take you a long way. I’ve got the same markings and curly hair as you and, boy, they’ve helped me out of some big jams especially those times when I rolled around in that delicious dead animal matter. Despite what trouble you get into, looking cute means your owners can’t stay mad at you for long.

Next, enjoy your puppyhood but remember, it won’t last. So long as you’re small and cuddly and cute, you can get away with murder. Pee on the rug all you want and chew everything in sight. You’re a puppy; it’s expected. But just so you know, this stage won’t last forever. There’ll soon come a time when your owners are going to expect you to pee outside and actually respond to commands.

Just a word of warning. Beware of the obedience course. It’s no fun but I strongly advise you to just go along. The sooner you perform well at one of these courses, the sooner you can be done with them and get back to doing just as you please. Owners seem determined to get you to graduate with honors. But don’t worry; they seldom have the patience to continue the training regime at home.

Once you’ve completed the obedience course, it’s time to start training your owners. As for the basics, no need to fret. They’re generally housebroken and know to come when you bark. But when it comes to food, treats and walks, they’re sometimes a little slow.

Typically, you’re going to have a couple of bowls - one for food and one for water. Your owners are going to give you regular feedings of dog food but, trust me, that’s not going to be enough. You’re quickly going to have to train your caretakers to give you more dog food and to supplement it with some nice leftovers or table scraps.

One surefire method to get more is to play one owner off against another. I believe you have four owners so this should be a piece of cake for you. Once one of them has fed you, wait an hour or so. When another owner enters the room, shake your food bowl, bark and generally pretend to be starving. Chances are you’ll get a second or even a third helping.

Initially, humans tend to be conscientious about taking you for a walk. Just so you know, twice a day is the accepted minimum. Unfortunately, over time, some owners get a bit lazy and start to cut back on the frequency and length of your daily outings. That’s when a little extra training may be required.

If you find you’re being shortchanged in the exercise department, let your owners know. First try barking. If that doesn’t work, bring them your leash. If even that fails, start leaving little "presents" around the house which should quickly bring them around.

As for sleeping arrangements, humans tend to think you should sleep on the floor or on a doggie mat. That’s OK for starters but don’t settle for that. If you feel like sleeping on a sofa or a chair, do so. Your owners will probably shoo you off the furniture at first but eventually they’ll give up. With a little luck, you’ll be able to sleep in one of the Obama girl’s beds or, if you play your cards right, maybe even the Lincoln Bedroom.

Good luck, Bo. We’re all counting on you. You’re the first Portie to inhabit The White House and hopefully you won’t be the last. After all, we don’t want another Scottish Terrier living there any time soon, right?

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