Wednesday 15 April 2009

Bo And Obama's Compulsion to Run

Let me be the first on NextLeft to acknowledge this important addition to the White House. Bo has now been almost a week in his new home and has been unveiled to the baying press (excuse the pun). Obama must have been somewhat bemused to play the secondary role in a press conference so early in his presidential career.

Back in the heady post election days I wrote a response to a blog (unfortunately lost in cyberspace so I cannot link it) after Obama had promised his daughters a dog. I wondered what the dog would be called, since there was such a long tradition of presidential animals with symbolic names. By choosing Bo as a name Obama has decided to avoid the pit-falls of calling the presidential dog Liberty as one of his predecessors did.

I first saw and heard of Bo on a BBC article on Easter day. The picture was rather odd – a back view of Obama and Bo running and looking at each other. What was this meant to tell us? Was it meant to show an energetic President, or was it showing one who is turning his back from something? Furthermore, what is the symbolism of Bo’s trailing lead? Is it meant to show a President with so much confidence that he believes his people will always follow him in the same devoted way?

I am intrigued by the choice of breed – a Portuguese water dog. I like my dogs but I must admit
I had never heard of this one before. Was the breed name meant to complement Obama’s long list of visionary skills by suggesting he has a dog who can walk on water? However, apparently Bo can’t swim which rather spoils that theory.

The video clip of the unveiling press conference is very funny. Bo staggers out of the blocks and straight to the cameras, without any of the refined poise and grace of the perfect Obama family. The Obamas took Bo in turns whilst Barack gave the press a running commentary but Bo went where he wanted to go, and Barack looked pleased but slightly worried. Bo’s trainer will certainly have a steady full time job despite these uncertain economic times.

What interested me was Obama’s compulsion to run with Bo during the press conference. As mentioned above, the first picture I saw of Bo was one of him running alongside Obama. I think without realising it Obama has watched too many films of heroic man and devoted dog running along-side each other in perfect step, whilst meeting each other’s eyes at key moments. Unfortunately Bo has not seen those films. In the future I predict that we will see many more attempts by Obama to run with Bo.

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