Groundskeeper reflects on decades of presidential dogs

Posted on November 3, 2009 under Pet Health & Safety

Groundskeeper reflects on decades of presidential dogsHealthcare reform, bank regulation, unemployment benefits – there are countless reasons to tune into the news or pick up the paper to see how the decisions of President Obama and his administration may affect American lives. However, as the White House’s veteran groundskeeper told the Associated Press, "Sometimes I think people are more interested in the pets than the president."

Dale Haney has been the keeper of the White House grounds for nearly 40 years, spanning eight presidents and over a dozen presidential dogs.

In addition to keeping the grass green and the flowers in bloom, Haney is often tasked with walking the Obama family’s Portuguese water dog, Bo, when the president and first lady turn their attention to slightly more pressing matters.

An animal lover, the groundskeeper gets along well with Bo, but says he was most fond of George and Laura Bush’s English springer spaniel, Spot, and Scottish terrier, Barney, the AP reports.

"They would hang out with us during the day while the president and first lady were busy," he said. "Barney plays with the volleyball and Spot plays with a tennis ball."

Of Bo, Haney says, "He has his own mind and does his own thing. You’ve got to love him."

Due to 11-year-old Malia Obama’s allergies, the first family chose a Portuguese water dog in part because it is a hypoallergenic breed.