WASHINGTON — The familiar black dog with the white chest and white front paws starred in past Christmases in President Barack Obama's White House, but America's first pooch had to let someone else in the picture this holiday season: his little sister, Sunny.
Sunny stole the spotlight outright when 2-year-old Ashtyn Gardner, of Mobile, Ala., lost her balance and dropped to the carpet when Michelle Obama led the leashed puppy (a separate handler held Bo) into the State Dining Room, where the first lady and military children had been decorating cookie ornaments, making tissue-paper flowers and using dried fruit to make tiny wreaths.
Two life-sized replicas of the Portuguese water dogs, made from black satin ribbon, are one of the first things people will see this month as an expected 70,000 visitors stream in to the White House for tours and holiday functions. Both dogs wag their tails and Bo gives a high-five. They are surrounded by Christmas trees made of books.
The pets, dark chocolate miniature versions, are also part of the annual gingerbread White House display. Both dogs hang out near a functioning replica of the fountain on the North Lawn. The illuminated, edible White House sits on top of a life-sized fireplace fashioned from more than 1,200 Springerle cookies. The entire display weighs about 300 pounds and is trashed after the holidays due to its prolonged exposure to so many people.
Michelle Obama, who has emphasized support for military families, gave some of them a first look at the decked-out White House halls on Wednesday. She asked Americans gathering with friends and family for the holidays to also remember the men and women in uniform.