Bo, beloved ‘First Dog’ of the Obama family, dies at 12 — rest in peace

No matter who you are, a pet dog can be a great presence in your life, always loyal and there to comfort you when you need them.

Maybe this is why so many US presidents have owned dogs. It’s a stressful, high-pressure job, and at the end of the day it’s nice to come home to a pet who loves you unconditionally. (As Harry Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”)

That was certainly the case with Bo, the “First Dog” of President Barack Obama and his family through their eight years in the White House, who was a beloved family pet and trusted companion. In his recent memoir A Promised Land, the former president joked that Bo was “the only reliable friend a politician can have in Washington.”

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Sadly, after many loving years with the family, Bo died over the weekend of cancer at the age of 12, the family announced. Both the former president and First Lady Michelle Obama wrote touching tributes to their late friend.

Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, joined the family in April 2009, shortly after the Obamas moved into the White House. He was promised to Sasha and Malia Obama, who were young girls at the time, during Obama’s run for president.

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“Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine,” Barack Obama said on election night. “And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new White House.”

Over Obama’s two terms in office, Bo won hearts around the country and provided to the First Family the kind of love and comfort only a dog can. Barack Obama called him a “true friend and loyal companion.”

“Bo was supposed to be a companion for the girls,” Michelle Obama wrote. “We had no idea how much he would mean to all of us.”

“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,” Barack Obama wrote on Instagram.

“He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair.”

“He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.”


In her own tribute, Michelle echoed those sentiments, saying that Bo was a “constant, comforting presence in our lives.”

“He was there when the girls came home from school, greeting them with a wag. He was there when Barack and I needed a break, sauntering into one of our offices like he owned the place, a ball clamped firmly in his teeth.”

The Obamas left the White House in 2017, after the end of Barack’s second term, but Michelle says that Bo remained a big part of their lives.

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And she says that in recent months — when the family was all together during the COVID-19 pandemic — they got to spend plenty of time with Bo, ensuring that his final days were filled with lots of love.

“This past year, with everyone back home during the pandemic, no one was happier than Bo,” Michelle wrote. “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.”

Bo is survived by Sunny, the Obamas’ second Portuguese Water Dog, who is currently eight-years-old.

Michelle thanked everyone for loving Bo over the years, and encouraged them to show some extra affection to their own furry friends in his memory.

“Please hug the furry members of your family a little closer tonight—and give them a belly rub from us,” she wrote.

Rest in peace, Bo. Thank you for being such a great “First Dog,” providing love and comfort for the Obama family and winning hearts all across America.

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