On his first day on the job, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (his second) barring executive branch staff from accepting gifts from lobbyists. All well and good, but this  could create a sticky wicket with the government of Canada, which is in a position to give the president a rare and precious gift: A Labradoodle puppy, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle, whose mother had been rescued from a Manitoba puppy mill. 

The Winnipeg Humane Society got the idea to give the Obamas the puppy after the then-president elect said in an interview that the family had narrowed the choice of First Puppy down to a Labradoodle and a Portuguese water dog, but that finding either in an animal shelter was proving “tougher than finding a Commerce Secretary,” reports The Globe and Mail (Toronto): 

“When Obama makes his visit to Canada, what better present could there be on behalf of the people of Canada?” asks Bill McDonald, executive director of the Winnipeg Humane Society. 

To make his point, Mr. McDonald wrote a letter last week outlining the proposition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Within 24 hours, he got a reply saying that his letter had been passed on to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon.  

“My sense is that there is now some policy wonk looking into the matter and checking to see if a live animal gift would be appropriate,” Mr. McDonald said.  

If the Winnipeg Humane Society or the government of Canada is deemed to be a lobby under the new ethics rules and Obama accepts the Labradoodle anyway, he may one day be forced to give a speech that goes like something like this: 

We did get something, a gift, after the election. A man up in Canada heard me on ABC TV mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And believe it or not, we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore, saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was? It was a little Labradoodle dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Winnipeg. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it. 

Aside from any potential ethical issues – a live dog is unlike other gifts of state in that it cannot be housed in a presidential library or a museum after Obama leaves office – there may be another, um, impediment to this particular dog being welcomed into the White House that has thus far not occurred to Canadian officials or policy wonks: Its name is Blackie.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker

Be Sociable, Share!