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The Former First Dog Bo Has Died After Having Cancer, The Obamas Said

“He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected," Barack Obama wrote in a tribute. "We will miss him dearly.”

Posted on May 8, 2021, at 4:41 p.m. ET

Barack Obama kneels to pet his dog Bo
Pool / Getty Images

Barack and Michelle Obama announced the death of their first family pet, Bo, on Saturday after the 12-year-old Portuguese water dog had cancer.

On Twitter, the former president wrote, “Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. 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 everyday in between.”

Bo, a resident of the White House during Obama’s two terms, was a gift to Sasha and Malia Obama from Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2009, in part because the family had set out to find a hypoallergenic breed due to Malia's allergies.

“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,” wrote Obama.

“He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly,” he added.

Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion. 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 everyday in between.

Twitter: @barackobama

The former first daughters had decided on the name "Bo," inspired by their cousins who had a cat with the same name and as a reference to the rock 'n' roll legend Bo Diddley — a nod to their maternal grandfather, who was nicknamed "Diddley," the Guardian reported.

Known for his distinct black coat and white chest, Bo — sometimes referred to as the “first dog” — proved to be popular with staffers and members of the public when he made official appearances alongside the first family.

Bo was later joined by a little sister of the same breed, Sunny, in 2013.

On Instagram, former first lady Michelle Obama shared that Bo had cancer. She reflected on his life and the role he played within the family.

Bo was supposed to be a companion for the girls. We had no idea how much he would mean to all of us,” she wrote in her caption.

“For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, comforting presence in our lives," 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.”

He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.

Twitter: @BarackObama

In her Instagram tribute, Michelle noted that “no one was happier than Bo” when the whole family was home together during the pandemic this past year.

She also thanked the public for their words of support and urged pet owners to “hug the furry members of your family a little closer tonight—and give them a belly rub from us.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.