Portuguese Water Dogs and Portuguese Children Finding Homes

04/17/09 - Bo, the Portuguese water puppy given to President Obama's daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, by Senator Ted Kennedy and his wife, is one lucky dog. He has not only found a home where he will be loved by two children and their parents. He has been taken in by America's First Household. The six-month-old puppy will surely occupy a special place in the hearts of Americans, who will closely follow his progress.

Portuguese water dog
Portuguese water dog

Portuguese water dogs, also known as Porties, are native to Portugal. They were bred along the coast as fishermen's helpers. Their coat is waterproof, their toes are webbed, and they are strong swimmers. They were originally bred to dive for fish, retrieve fishing nets, and carry messages to shore.

The Obamas had planned to adopt a dog from a shelter. After receiving the puppy as a present from Senator Kennedy—Bo was a litter mate of the Kennedy family's own dog—the first family decided instead to make a donation to a humane society.

SOS Children's Villages Provides Homes for Orphaned Children

Children play with their dog at an SOS Children's Village
Children play with their dog at an SOS Children's Village

Animals in need of a home dot the globe, and so do abandoned children. SOS Children's Villages is the world's largest charity devoted to providing loving homes to orphaned and neglected children. SOS cares for children in 132 countries around the world, including Portugal. SOS offers warm homes, professionally trained local mothers, and stable communities for children whose life prospects would otherwise be very bleak. SOS Children's Villages keeps biological siblings together whenever possible.

Children who are brought to SOS Children's Villages by local court systems or welfare organizations have often led troubled lives. The love and support they receive from their SOS mother, SOS siblings, and SOS schools and clinics bring out their positive talents and skills. Most remain loyal to SOS all their lives.

SOS in Portugal

Children play outside the SOS Children's Village Bicesse in Portugal
Children play outside the SOS Children's Village Bicesse in Portugal

SOS operates three Children's Villages in Portugal. Two are along the coast, the origin of the Obama puppy's ancestors. The first Village, in Bicesse, near the capital of Lisbon, opened in 1967. The need for suitable facilities for orphaned and abandoned children in Portugal was very great at that time. Until then, these children had been accommodated in homes where they were split up according to age and gender and totally cut off from the outside world.

Bo, America’s "first dog," has found a good home. The Obamas and animal lovers around the world will trace his development over the years. SOS mothers closely track the physical and emotional development of the children they raise, creating strong bonds that last a lifetime.

If you would like to help a child—in Portugal or elsewhere—secure a loving mother, a safe home, and a stable community, consider sponsoring a child.