Apr 192009
Authors: Kelsey Clark Daily Trojan USC

(U-Wire) – With irresistible brown eyes and a mane of dark curly hair, the newest big shot in the District is not a member of Congress. And it’s not another promiscuous White House intern either.

Weighing in at 40 pounds and standing at a height of 18 inches, Bo Obama was formally introduced to the country Tuesday as the new first pup.

Making good on one of his many campaign promises, President Barack Obama allowed his daughters Malia and Sasha to get the puppy the girls had negotiated for prior to his election. The Portuguese water dog, who arrived as a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy, can now call 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. home.

The girls are ecstatic about the furry addition to their new home, but beyond merely serving as a family companion, studies show that this pooch’s presence at the White House could be beneficial to the president’s health.

Dr. Karen Allen, a medical researcher at State University of New York at Buffalo, reports that owning a dog can lead to better cardiovascular health. In a study that tested the physiological reactions to individuals in stressful situations, dog owners responded with significantly lower blood pressure readings than those who didn’t own pets.

A healthy response to stress will be crucial for our commander in chief over the next four years. His mildly stressful first tasks? Eliminating a national debt of $11 trillion and ending two overseas wars.

Allen also asserts that merely having Bo sit nearby while a family member has to make a difficult decision can serve as a defense against psychological and physical stress.

It is good to know that whether President Obama is debating foreign policy with the Iraqi prime minister or Michelle Obama is in a deep panic regarding which J. Crew cardigan to don that day, Bo’s calming presence can positively impact the whole Obama clan.

Further evidence of the valuable effects dogs can have on our personal health can be seen in the pet visitation program for patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center called Pets Offer Ongoing Caring and Healing, or POOCH. This volunteer effort gives patients in the pediatric, HIV/AIDS and cardiology units the opportunity to be comforted by a canine companion and his owner.

Barbara Cowen, a volunteer coordinator at Cedars-Sinai, notes that pets can provide “unconditional love and affection [to] lessen a patient’s fears and loneliness, which are feelings often associated with hospitalization.”

Although President Obama is currently in good health, it is not unlikely that he will experience sentiments of fear and loneliness as he goes about his trying tasks each day, often continents away from the comfort of his family and home. Time to make room for a dog crate on Air Force One.

Even though we know Bo will not be replacing Vice President Joe Biden anytime soon, it seems that this cuddly canine has many responsibilities to fulfill during the next four years.

We will wait in eager anticipation to see if Bo’s presence will result in such potent health effects for Obama. In the meantime, the Portuguese water dog is content to prance along, fast on the president’s heels – sitting when he sits, standing when he stands and never gnawing on any of the office furniture.

If only Congress behaved so well.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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