Barack Obama remembers Bo: ‘if you want a friend, get a dog’

White House
The Obamas’ First Dog, Bo, sadly passed away from cancer at the age of 12 earlier this month. Many of us watched Bo grow up and remember when he first came to the White House. Many of us were truly affected at the announcement of his passing. I’m getting a little teary right now writing about it. Pres. Barack Obama called in to The Late Late Show with James Corden and while he was on, they talked about losing Bo. James asked about Bo’s effect on Barack in the White House and the former president said Bo was the friend he needed during his hardest hours.

Barack Obama is continuing to mourn the loss of his beloved canine companion, Bo.

While appearing virtually on The Late Late Show Monday, the 59-year-old former president reflected on Bo’s legacy at the White House shortly after his death earlier this month.

When asked by host James Corden how Bo’s presence affected his time in office, Obama first explained that he made a promise to his two daughters, Malia and Sasha, that they would get a dog whether or not he was elected to serve as president. “So one way Bo changed it was to stop them from harassing me or thinking their dad was a liar,” Obama joked.

“The other thing, there’s a well-known saying in Washington — if you want a friend, get a dog — well, you know, I got one,” he continued. “Because I needed a friend during the presidency who would be nice to me no matter what.”

“The third thing, and I think everybody can relate to this, is he ended up being a sort of a bond for the whole family, to give us this fun, furry excuse to go for walks and spend time together and chase after each other … and so it becomes one of the threads that run through your family and all of the memories that you have with each other,” he added.

During his late-night guest appearance, Obama also explained how the comments section of his and Mrs. Obama’s posts dedicated to Bo differed from that of their other posts, which typically feature “trolls,” as Obama referred to them.

“Those are the only posts where everybody posted something nice,” he said. “… It actually told you something about how important people’s pets are in their families lives.”

[From People]

The headline quote is me being devious because the quote Barack loosely referenced is, “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” That quote is erroneously attributed to Harry S. Truman, which is the name of my dog, and I like to work him into any story I can. But Barack’s follow up is so true, when you need someone to be nice to you, a dog (and most pets) will be that friend. The third part is also true, people are kinder on pet posts than any other posts. I’m grateful that no one took the opportunity to trash the Obamas while they were mourning Bo. Thank goodness there is still a shred of decency somewhere in this land. As for Barack’s promise to Sasha and Malia, I misremembered that. I thought he’d promised them the dog if they had to move to the White House. I didn’t know it was regardless of whether he won. He mentioned it in his acceptance speech the night of the election, I remember that.

Before Bo was announced as a Portuguese Water Dog, I’d never heard of that breed. Lord, that puppy was all legs. The Obama girls were young when they first moved to The White House, and it was so refreshing to have this young, vibrant family with this puppy made all of limbs and fur running around the lawn. It was a scene of vitality we desperately needed. I’m grateful the Obamas were willing to share Bo’s life with us and to allow us to share in their grief with his passing. RIP Bo.

Here is the part of the interview where Obama talks about Bo:

Obama family pets Bo, left, and Sunny, right.

First Lady Michelle Obama, seated with Obama family pets Bo and Sunny

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images and

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15 Responses to “Barack Obama remembers Bo: ‘if you want a friend, get a dog’”

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  1. Southern Fried says:

    So true about dogs. Their super power is sensing sadness and comforting in their quiet sweet ways.

  2. BusyLizzy says:

    I so so so agree with his statement. Pets are the best of friends. It’s always so sad when they leave us.

  3. Merricat says:

    I cannot place a value on how much the companionships of my dogs mean to me. They know when I need comfort often before my human family members.

  4. Iris says:

    Is the bit about ‘no bite’ shade at Major Biden?! Poor major 😭

    • Merricat says:

      Unlike the previous president, President Obama does not use every occasion to swipe at the current president.

  5. embrat says:

    Many years ago we got a rescue for my 13 year old. He brought my son and I close during a time when he was struggling with being a typical teen. Just playing with him, walking him, teaching him tricks – we had a special voice for the dog and would”talk” for him. It was so hard when that dog died, my son had kids of his own by then. He says all the time how happy he was that the dog got to meet his kids

  6. Jess says:

    Gah, I’m tearing up now, animals are everything, it was sweet seeing the President run around with a little dog! We got a maltipoo last year and my husband says I’m so much happier since we got her. She brings me so much peace I can’t even explain why.

  7. Wiglet Watcher says:

    My mom says I’m happier when I have dogs and she’s right. I volunteered at a shelter to walk them and found my little beagle sisters. Adopted them the moment they were available. And it’s been amazing ever since. And when they leave us that space isn’t replaced by another dog.

    Life is more complete when you have a dog to share it with.

  8. Ana170 says:

    Pets are great but they are a lot of responsibility. There’s an (entirely predictable) trend right now of pets being returned to shelters because people’s lives are returning to normal. There was a lot of that “get a dog if you’re home alone” talk at the beginning of the pandemic. If you aren’t willing to commit to another living being for a couple of decades, don’t get a pet.

  9. Amelie says:

    Omg Bo, that close up of his face on Obama’s Instagram makes him look like a little Chewbacca. I’m sure he must have provided so much comfort to Sasha and Malia and a sense of normalcy for Barack and Michelle living in the fishbowl that is the White House. I remember Michelle saying in an interview that Sunny and Bo had to get used to doorbells living in a normal house because they never heard them while living in the White House. I lost my dog almost 7 years ago but I still think of him all the time. I really wished he had been alive during the pandemic–it would have been such a great excuse to get outside and go for a walk. Someday I’ll get another one!

  10. Quincytoo says:

    We have a 4 year old Porteguese Water Dog and are welcoming a 8 week old Portie into the family in 2 weeks
    They are an amazing breed
    Tears in my eye writing this ❤️😢

  11. lucy2 says:

    I really loved all the photos of Bo in the White House with the Obama family. He was an adorable dog, and you could see the joy and love he brought the family.

  12. The Recluse says:

    RIP Bo.
    Good doggie.
    I am a better human being because of the dogs I’ve had in my life. I can’t imagine a life without one.

  13. Milkweed says:

    Sweet man, sweet family, sweet dog. Pets bring so much joy, they are one of life’s true pleasures.

  14. Willow says:

    There was a mouse in my house this morning! The cat found it. One dog flushed it out from hiding. The other dog caught it. While I screamed and ran. So my dogs and cat saved me from the tiny intruder. Just one more of the 10 million reasons I love them.
    Also, sorry little mouse. All mice, please live outside, it’s safer out there.