Barack Obama has announced the death of the family dog Bo and paid tribute to him in a post on social media.
“Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion,” the former president wrote.
“For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives – happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and every day in between.”
Bo, a male Portuguese Water Dog, was almost 13 years old and spent much of his life at the White House as “First Dog”. He passed away after a battle with cancer.
In subsequent posts, Mr Obama wrote: “He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair.”
He added: “He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.”
On the night he was elected as the 44th president, Mr Obama promised his daughters Malia and Sasha that they would be getting a puppy when they moved into the executive mansion.
There was much speculation over what breed of dog the Obamas would choose, or whether they would adopt from a shelter.
Bo was reportedly named by the Obama children after their cousins’ cat and Michelle’s father, known as Diddley – a reference to the R&B musician Bo Diddley. His name was also the initials of the former president.
Bo came to the White House as a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy, who owned a dog from the same litter.
The family was often seen walking him on the grounds of the White House and he made frequent appearances at events alongside the then-first lady – particularly those involving children and military families.
The former first lady wrote: “This afternoon was a difficult one for our family. We said goodbye to our best friend – Bo – after a battle with cancer. We are grateful for the love you showed him over the years. Please hug the furry members of your family a little closer tonight – and give them a belly rub from us.”
During the Obama administration, the White House webpage featured photos and a biography of Bo, and his likeness was used in Christmas, Halloween, and Easter decorations.
In August 2013, Bo was joined at the White House by Sunny, a female of the same breed.
Ms Obama recalled: He was there when the girls came home from school, greeting them with a wag. He was there when Barack and I needed a break, sauntering into one of our offices like he owned the place, a ball clamped firmly in his teeth.”
She continued: “He was there when we flew on Air Force One, when tens of thousands flocked to the South Lawn for the Easter Egg Roll and when the Pope came to visit. And when our lives slowed down, he was there too – helping us see the girls off to college and adjust to life as empty nesters.”
Ms Obama also noted that over the past year, with everyone back at home during the pandemic, that no one was happier than Bo to have them all under the same roof again.