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Originally published November 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 8, 2008 at 12:17 AM

Live inauguration coverage: AP | Washington Post | KUOW

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Presidential pooch search "major issue" for Obamas

There's the economy, the war, energy problems. So what decision facing the upcoming administration seems to have caught the nation's attention? Finding the First Dog.

There's the economy, the war, energy problems. So what decision facing the upcoming administration seems to have caught the nation's attention?

Finding the First Dog.

Obama promised his daughters a puppy after the election, but finding one is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

"This is a major issue," Obama told reporters at his Chicago news conference on Friday. It's generated more interest on his Web site than any other topic, he joked.

But 10-year-old daughter Malia has allergies, so the family is looking for a low-allergy dog, but also want to adopt a "rescue dog."

"We have two criteria that have to be reconciled," Obama said.

Unfortunately, there is really no such thing as an allergy-free furry animal, doctors say. Dogs, cats and other critters all shed dander, some more than others, though.

Still, the American Kennel Club says there is a good selection of low-allergy dogs. Poodles, for example.

Obama said the family would prefer to adopt a puppy from an animal shelter.

"But obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me," said Obama, in an apparent self-deprecating reference to his mixed-race heritage.

John Polis of Best Friends, an animal-rescue group headquartered in Utah, said that a surprising number of shelter dogs are purebreds, and there are also animal-rescue societies devoted to particular breeds.

Malia reportedly wants a "goldendoodle," a golden retriever-poodle hybrid that isn't recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club.

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According to his staff, the Obamas will wait until spring to adopt a pet, according to his transition staff. When he and his wife, Michelle, first agreed to let Malia and Sasha, 7, have a dog, it was always on the condition that the adoption take place in the spring so they wouldn't be housebreaking the puppy in the winter.

A new dog can be a daunting choice, especially when made in the spotlight. But it's worth it — and for more than just the kids.

"When he has a bad day, what's better than having a dog walk over and say 'Hey, things aren't so bad?' " said Stephen Zawistowski, an executive vice president for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Cox News Services and the Chicago Tribune

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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