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Long IslandPolitics

Obama puppy on the way?

WASHINGTON - Forget the nuclear launch codes and thepresident's BlackBerry address. The most tightly kept secret at theWhite House is the first pooch's identity and arrival.

White House aides kept mum Saturday about when President BarackObama might welcome a new puppy to the executive mansion. Thatdidn't stop celebrity Web sites and bloggers from tossing outrumors; one site even claimed it had pictures of the future firstpet.

The president, for his part, embraced the frenzy: "Oh, man,now, that's top secret," Obama joked Friday to reporters.

Celebrity Web site TMZ.com reported Saturday that the Obamaswould get a black-and-white Portuguese Water Dog on Tuesday fromthe same lineage as Sen. Ted Kennedy's pets. TMZ did not cite itssource on a report that also said the six-month-old pet was namedCharlie, but Obamas would change that.

Instantly, FirstDogCharlie.com went online.

Administration aides said they had nothing to announce aboutpets on Saturday, but added the dog is not yet at the White House.They would not say when the dog was due to arrive.

The administration's schedule offers some clues: Monday bringsscores of visitors to the White House's South Lawn for the annualEaster Egg Roll; aides don't want the puppy to compete with thatfor news coverage.

The same aides also realize the choice of puppy has become amajor news story for a White House that is also confronting aneconomic crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and its first budget.The puppy choice has been eagerly awaited not only by the firstdaughters, but by dog lovers as a break from the dire headlines.

Obama promised his daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-oldSasha, a puppy during the campaign.

"This is Washington. That was a campaign promise," Obama saidwhen he appeared on Jay Leno's talk show last month, as theaudience roared with laughter. "No, I'm teasing. The dog will bethere shortly."

Obama and his wife, Michelle, have said the choice is down toeither a Portuguese Water Dog or a Labradoodle.

(LabradoodlesForObama.com held out hope on Saturday.)

Obama said he expected the pet to be in place by the time hereturned from his eight-day Europe trip, but no canine greeted himwhen he returned to Washington early Wednesday.

Obama even got a question about the puppy during a townhall-style event in Strasbourg, France.

"It should be there soon," he replied.

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