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Obama announces death of former 'first dog' Bo

"He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected," the former president tweeted. "We will miss him dearly."
Obama On The South Lawn
President Obama plays football with the family dog Bo on the South Lawn of the White House May 12, 2009.The White House / Getty Images file

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday announced that former "first dog" Bo had died.

Bo, a Portuguese water dog given to the Obama children, Sasha and Malia, by Sen. Ted Kennedy and his wife Victoria in 2009, was roughly 12 years old.

"Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion," Obama tweeted. "For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives—happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between."

In an Instagram post, former first lady Michele Obama said Bo died after a battle with cancer.

"This past year, with everyone back home during the pandemic, no one was happier than Bo," she wrote in the post. "All his people were under one roof again—just like the day we got him. I will always be grateful that Bo and the girls got to spend so much time together at the end."

Obama had promised his young daughters a dog during his 2008 presidential campaign — win or lose.

The Portugese water dog was a perfect fit for the Obamas because Malia is allergic to canines. The breed is better for people with allergies.

He was named partly for pioneering R&B musician Bo Diddley. Michelle's father, Fraser Robinson III, was nicknamed Diddley.

Bo was joined at the White House in 2013 by Sunny, a 1-year-old girl of the same breed. Bo was the one with white paws and a large white spot on his chest.

On National Dog Day in 2019, the former first lady tweeted, "Whether they’re cuddling up with me on the couch or rolling around in the backyard, I love these two balls of fur."

Both pets were known for frolicking on the White House lawn with the Obamas. The breed soon became popular and was well represented, in 2013, at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

When President Donald Trump took office in 2017, he said he didn't have any dogs because he didn't "have any time" for them.

President Joe Biden's election meant a return of dogs to the White House: He brought two German shepherds, one of which, Major, was quickly involved in two biting incidents.

Obama tweeted Saturday that Bo "was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly."