The Slatest

Obama Family Dog Bo Dies After Battle With Cancer

A June 6, 2012 photo shows Bo, the Obama family dog, in the Rose Garden of the White House.
A June 6, 2012 photo shows Bo, the Obama family dog, in the Rose Garden of the White House. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama’s dog Bo died Saturday after battling cancer. Obama and his wife Michelle both shared news of the 12-year-old Portuguese water dog’s death on social media. “Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion,” Obama wrote. “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.”

Bo became an instant celebrity when the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a major supporter of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, gave the dog to the Obamas. “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,” Obama said. “He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.” Throughout his two terms in office, Obama was a constant presence and frequently made cameos at formal events and surprised visitors.

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Then-President Barack Obama walks with Bo, the family dog, as he arrives to read a story to children attending the annual Easter Egg Roll on April 1, 2013 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.
Then-President Barack Obama walks with Bo, the family dog, as he arrives to read a story to children attending the annual Easter Egg Roll on April 1, 2013 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

The former president had promised daughters Malia and Sasha they could get a dog after the election. “At the time, Bo was supposed to be a companion for the girls. We had no idea how much he would mean to all of us,” Michelle Obama wrote in an Instagram post. “No. one was happier than Bo” when the Obamas were all suddenly under the same roof during the pandemic, the former first lady said. “I will always be grateful that Bo and the girls got to spend so much time together at the end.”

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In his 2020 memoir, Obama wrote that “of all the pleasures that first year in the White House would deliver, none quite compared to the mid-April arrival of Bo.” The dog gave Obama “what someone once described as the only reliable friend a politician can have in Washington,” the former president wrote. He also said the dog gave him the perfect excuse to put off work and go with his family for after-dinner walks.

Bo, the Obama family dog, sits in the snow outside of the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on December 19, 2009 in Washington.
Bo, the Obama family dog, sits in the snow outside of the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on December 19, 2009 in Washington. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images
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In August 2013 the family got another dog of the same breed, Sunny.

Bo and Sunny pose for photos on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. on October 30, 2015, as the White House prepares to host thousands of children and their families as they trick-or-treat for Halloween.
Bo and Sunny pose for photos on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. on October 30, 2015, as the White House prepares to host thousands of children and their families as they trick-or-treat for Halloween. SAUL LOEB/Getty Images
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