A Girl Takes a Tumble and Gets a Kiss from a White House Dog

Ashtyn Gardner was visiting with other military families when Sunny knocked her over -- but dog and child recovered quickly.


So this morning, I did the usual thing: I dragged myself out of bed, made some coffee, and started checking out Google News for tidbits to bring to you, Dogster’s loyal readership. More a sacred quest than a job, really. It turns out that the big dog news item today is that the Obamas new puppy knocked over a two-year-old girl who was visiting the White House.

I have to say, it’s a disappointing story. Not in itself, but because of what it says about the American body politic: it’s been almost 24 hours since the incident, and still the political fringes don’t seem to have come up with a single conspiracy theory. No one seems to even have started a drive to demand that the White House produce the dog’s birth certificate.

Here are the facts: On Wednesday, Ashtyn Gardner, from Mobile, Alabama, was visiting the White House with other military families to get a first glimpse of the holiday ornaments. First Lady Michelle Obama brought the Obama’s new dog, Sunny, out to the visitors on a leash. Sunny seemed delighted to meet all the new people, and in her exuberance, nudged Ashtyn a little too hard and she tumbled over, as youngsters are wont to do. Two-year-olds are remarkably resilient, of course, and in a few moments, Ashtyn was back on her feet being hugged by the First Lady and getting licked by Sunny, who seemed eager to make things right between them.

Ashtyn’s father, a Navy lieutenant, said that his daughter is a dog lover and was restless to see the White House pets.

“She went straight for them, reaching out to hug Sunny,” he said. “The next thing you knew her shiny shoes were in the air!”

From such moments, trending Twitter topics are born.

The responses to the event haven’t been entirely paranoia-free. A couple of outlets have said that Sunny “attacked” Ashtyn, and one particularly ugly tweet turned it into a white supremacist fantasy, claiming, “Trained To Attack White Children. Obama dog attacks, knocks over toddler Ashtyn Gardner.” But still, by this point, I’d expect that Sunny would have been accused for the problems with HealthCare.gov, or having secret ties to terrorists.

The Obamas did get criticism when they first got Sunny a few months ago. Like the other White House dog, Bo, Sunny is a purebred Portugese Water Dog. At the time, Ingrid Newkirk of PETA said that the president’s decision to go to a breeder instead of getting a shelter dog was “the animal-protection world equivalent of kicking a hobo,” which demonstrated only that there’s no legitimate point that PETA can’t make in the most insensitive and idiotic way possible.

In the meantime, here’s hoping that Sunny and Ashtyn are feeling well recovered from the media fuss and have very happy holidays.


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