The line of succession leads to a new buddy

The Clintons' new dog is being trained on Shore

April 15, 2002|By Diane Marquette | Diane Marquette,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The project at Wild Goose Kennels on Maryland's Eastern Shore involves an ex-president, so naturally security is a bit tight, information hard to come by. But this much we know:

Former President Bill Clinton is getting a new puppy. The new puppy has a famous relative and his own personal trainer, but so far, he doesn't have a name. Those close to the pup, however, say he has a sort of code name: B.B. (for Bill's Boy).

Three and a half months after the death of his loyal chocolate Labrador, Buddy, Clinton has gone back to the same breeder and veterinarian for a new dog, another chocolate Lab born just weeks after Buddy was killed by a passing car outside the Clintons' New York home.

The new little Lab is even related to the late First Dog, says breeder Linda Renfro. It arrived in a litter of puppies fathered by Buddy's nephew at her Wild Goose Kennels in Caroline County on Jan. 23.

Renfro, whose own yellow Lab was the mother of Buddy, notified the former president about the puppies. The litter of nine included two male chocolate Labs, and Clinton called her back in March asking her to choose one of them to be his new dog.

The president, though, has yet to call back with a name for the new pup -- even though Renfro sent photos to help inspire him. "The Clintons were supposed to name the puppy while they were away during the Easter weekend," she said. But according to Clinton's New York staff, no name has been selected.

That could make things a little tough for B.B.'s trainer, Alan Terry. A basic part of dog training is getting a pup to learn and respond to its name. But Terry is game. After all, Buddy didn't get his name (after Clinton's uncle, who was a dog trainer) until he joined the Clinton White House during the former president's second term.

So what sort of pup is the Second Dog?

"He's like most male puppies," says Terry. "He needs more TLC than females, and when he wants attention, he starts whining. He likes interaction. Most people don't understand that dogs are pack animals. They need to be with their owners; they need to bond."

Terry also described B.B. as typical for his breed. "Right now, his No. 1 priority is food. Labs like to eat a lot," he says.

Renfro says she selected Terry to train the puppy because "he does not raise his voice or lift a hand to the puppy."

The puppy is old enough to go to his new home now, but Clinton asked Renfro to keep him until he is trained -- and housebroken. Terry says it all depends on the individual puppy how long that may take.

"By the time Mr. Clinton takes him, he'll be as trained as he can be to be a companion to him," says Terry, who is originally from Towson.

The little pup will be Clinton's first dog since the death of his beloved Buddy, who died in January after being hit by a car near his home while the Clintons were out of town. In a recent phone conversation, Clinton told Renfro that he still grieves for Buddy, who had become his constant companion.

Dr. Michael Metzler, owner of Four Paws Animal Hospital in Seaford, Del., was Buddy's vet before Buddy moved to Washington and is now taking care of the Clintons' new pup. He remembers the time a White House physician called to discuss Buddy's vaccinations and the possibility of transmitting diseases to anyone Buddy might nip.

"Labs are great family dogs," Metzler says. "They are easy to train, and are loyal." B.B., he says, has all his shots up to date and has been wormed several times. To join the Clintons in New York, the pup will be required to have a health certificate, which Metzler will provide.

Both Terry and Metzler agree that the dogs that are bred through Wild Goose Kennels "reflect the wonderful job that Linda does." Terry said he not charging Renfro for his services; he is training the puppy for the honor of doing it, as is everyone involved.

All those dealing with the president's new dog say seeing Clinton again with a chocolate Lab puppy will be a touching sight.

During his White House years, Buddy was often photographed bounding down the steps of a helicopter, tugging excitedly on the leash held by the president. "Buddy had a unique personality," says Renfro, who, along with Metzler, visited the First Dog at the White House on several occasions. "He went to Washington, and he had a unique life there. Everyone loved him."

B.B., they say, is not aware of the public role he is about to assume. But no one thinks he'll be too concerned with attention from the media, or the inevitable comparisons to Buddy. He will only want to share his love and loyalty with his new owners.

And to eat a lot.

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