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Presidents and first dogs

Posted February. 27, 2013 09:34,   


Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. Daily routine: wander around a large house and an office with airtight security, sometimes walk the garden or pick organic tomatoes in the small farming garden. Advantages and disadvantages at work: visit famous vacation places on a charter flight. Popularity does not allow me to expect privacy because the media covers my every mistake or incident.

This is the description of Bo, a Portuguese water dog living in the White House. Just as the president’s family is called the first family and the president’s wife first lady, Bo is called the first dog. Historically, presidents relied on dogs because they had to live in isolation while in power. According to the book “First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends,” more than half of U.S. presidents had dogs while in office. Pet dogs do not just give psychological comfort to heads of state, they also make the leaders more friendly and humane.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. president, especially loved his pets. He said, “You can blame me or my wife Eleanor, but not my dog Fala.” Fala still stands beside his master in a statue at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Millie, the dog of the 41st U.S. president George H.W. Bush, set a record for fundraising. “Millie’s Book” authored by former first lady Barbara Bush, outsold the president’s biography. Even Wikipedia has a story about former President Bill Clinton’s dog Buddy. In South Korea, former President Kim Dae-jung had Woori and Doori, Poongsan dogs given by North Korea, former President Roh Moo-hyun had Nuri, and former President Lee Myung-bak cherished Cheongdori, a Jindo.

The new first dogs entered the presidential office Tuesday. They are two-month-old Jindos that President Park Geun-hye received from her neighborhood before she left her residence in Samseong-dong, Seoul. She seemed comfortable and happy with the dogs in her arms. The president is said to have cherished dogs including Banguri, which she raised in the presidential office in the 1970s, and Bongdari and Bongsuki, Jindos that her brother Ji-man gave her as presents. Today, dogs that live with people are called "Balnyeo dogs." This means a person`s companion for life who listens to and protects him or her. Hopefully, the newest first dogs can serve as a good family and give happiness to the president when life gets tough for her.

Editorial Writer Koh Mi-seok (mskoh119@donga.com)