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  • Mary Evans Seeley

A Bodacious Christmas

Presidential pets have a unique place in White House history. The Obama’s did not have a dog when Barack Obama became President. In April, 2009, Senator Ted Kennedy gave a gift to Malia and Sasha - a Portuguese Water dog, - they named “Bo”.


The First Dog took his responsibilities very seriously. Mrs. Obama admitted that “Bo is the most popular member of our family. The President is clear on that. There are times when people recognize Bo, and they don’t even see him.”


At Christmas, Michelle Obama always tried to incorporate Bo into their Christmas themes. Bo-themed decorations were part of the holidays. There were Bo statues, Bo-flake ornaments, Bo bookmarks , and Bo cookies. Bo creations were made out of black plastic bags, black buttons, black pipe stem cleaners and black yarn.



Mrs. Obama encouraged the children visiting the White House to look for Bo. “Where’s Bo?’ was the White House version of “Where’s Waldo?”



It was not a surprise when President and Mrs. Obama even chose an oil painting of their much loved Bo to highlight their Christmas card. It was the first card resulting from a nation-wide art competition.


About 80 artists were invited to create original art from either of two photographs—one of the President’s House or one of the President’s dog. The winner would have the honor of having their work grace the front of the Obama’s official 2012 Christmas card.


Artist Larissa Kabel of Des Moines, IA chose to do her interpretation of the presidential pet playing in the snow, with the White House in the background. To give dimension to her work, Kabel gave Bo a scarf, and used a toothbrush to spatter white paint on the canvas as snow. Her art, entitled “Bo in the Snow” was chosen as the winner and became part of the White House Collection.


The Bodacious presidential card was sent to members of Congress, government officials, governors, ambassadors and heads of state, political supporters, family and friends.



The black and white illustration was adhered to a dark green card stock. Inside, the message read “This season, may your home be filled with family and friends, and the joy of the holidays.” It bore the printed signatures of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha and the paw print of the soon- to- be- world- famous “Bo” Obama.

Do you have a dog? Will the beloved pet be in your Christmas card this year?

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