Picking a puppy proving difficult

November 7, 2008 8:45:23 PM PST
President-elect Obama promised his daughters a puppy after the election, but finding one is proving to be a bit of a challenge. "This is a major issue," Obama told reporters at his news conference Friday. It's generated more interest on his Web site than any other topic, he joked.

But 10-year-old daughter Malia has allergies, so the family is looking for a low-allergy dog. "We have two criteria that have to be reconciled," said Obama. "One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic."

Unfortunately, there is really no such thing as an allergy-free furry animal, doctors say. Dogs, cats and other critters all shed some skin cells. And proteins found in their saliva or urine can also trigger allergic reactions in people.

Still, the American Kennel Club says there is a good selection of low-allergy dogs. And they don't have to be hairless or tiny.

Poodles, for example, are considered a good choice for people with allergies. So are several terriers. And Portugese water dogs.

Having a big place like the White House to call home should help. Malia can keep some distance between her and the family pooch. Just keeping it out of her bedroom should make a big difference.

The family's second criteria may be more difficult to fulfill. Obama said the family would prefer to adopt a puppy from an animal rescue shelter.

"But obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me," said Obama, in an apparent self-deprecating reference to his mixed race heritage. "So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."

There may yet be a happy ending for the Obama family's dilemma.

A surprising number of shelter dogs are purebreds, said John Polis of Best Friends, an animal rescue group headquartered in Utah. And there are also animal rescue societies devoted to particular breeds.

"There is a misconception that shelter dogs are all mutts," said Polis. "But a person who wants to adopt a poodle can find one. There are plenty of ways to adopt purebred dog."

On the Net: http://www.bestfriends.org/