The First Dog and the First Photographer: Obama’s Portuguese Connections

Portuguese Water DogArriving at newsstands across the United States tomorrow will be this week’s edition of People magazine with a cover story about Michele Obama. In the article the American first lady states that if it’s up to her, the choice for First Dog will be a Portuguese Water Dog. The pooch would be rescued from a shelter, and the breed was chosen due to its medium size, low allergy risk, and reputation of a good temperament and high intelligence.

The Portuguese Water Dog got its name for having first been seen all over Portugal’s coast, and especially in the southern Algarve. The dog has always been a loyal companion of seafarers, helping them deliver messages between boats and retrieve nets. They are close relatives of the poodle, with wavy black, white, or black and white hair.

Apparently Michele Obama will not have the final word, as the first lady’s press secretary has announced that the entire family still has to make a decision together about the new addition to their home, something that will likely only happen in April.

But the dog will not be the only presence in the White House with origins in Portugal. The official White House photographer is the Portuguese-American Pete Souza, born in Massachusetts (home to a large Portuguese community) and previously also the official White House photographer for Ronald Reagan. He’s already published a best-selling photo book entitled “The Rise of Barack Obama,” and has also worked for National Geographic and Life magazines.

Other prominent Portuguese-Americans are found in GoLisbon’s Portuguese people page.

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