Thursday, October 8, 2015         

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Obama will trail family, plus Bo

By Gregg K. Kakesako


President Barack Obama's Hawaii vacation is being delayed by unfinished business in Washington, but first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha were scheduled to make the trip today along with first dog Bo.

Bo had to meet all state animal quarantine regulations for cats and dogs before he could spend his first Christmas here.

That included getting two rabies vaccinations, an implanted electronic microchip, a blood test to ensure that he is rabies-free and his owners paying a $224 fee. His health certificate also must show that he was treated with Fipronil for ticks within the past 14 days.

Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, said the White House started the process for Bo after the first family completed their Christmas vacation in Kailua last year.

Without meeting these requirements, the first dog would have had to stay home or at the Halawa Valley quarantine facility for up to 120 days.

An Air Force veterinarian will ensure that Bo, a 24-month-old Portuguese waterdog, has the proper papers and will do a quick physical at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to ensure he has no ticks before he is released.

"Hawaii is the only rabies-free state," Saneishi said, "and that is the only reason for these restrictions."

The two rabies vaccines had to be administered at least 30 days apart.

The first family and Bo will travel on a C-40B, one of the smaller and most efficient planes available in the White House fleet for this trip. The president will join them when the congressional session is complete.

The family will return to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 1.

Obama has pledged to remain at the White House for as long as Congress remains in session. It is the second year he has had to delay his annual visit to his birth state for the holiday season. In 2009, he did not leave until Christmas Eve as lawmakers voted on his health care reform plan.

A spokesman for the first lady said she would make no public appearances after she and her daughters arrive today. The president also will likely maintain a low profile once he joins them, although in the past Obama has gone to golf courses, beaches and shave ice stores.

Obama has traveled to the islands for years to visit family and friends, but only once as president. He came twice as a candidate in 2008 — first for a break before the Democratic National Convention, and later to visit his ailing grandmother, who helped raise him here. He returned as president-elect that winter.

Since taking office, Obama has made nine vacation trips totaling all or part of 49 days, according to CBS Radio's Mark Knoller, the unofficial statistician of the White House press corps. That includes summer trips to Martha's Vineyard and last year's Hawaii trip.

By comparison, George W. Bush had spent all or part of 130 days on vacation through the same point in his presidency, most at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Obama also has made 15 trips to the presidential retreat at Camp David, compared with 48 by Bush.

The Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.

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