Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Sunny, The First Family's Dog, Knocks Down A Toddler At Christmas Event

Two-year-old Ashtyn Gardner was unscathed after her memorable meeting at the White House...
The White House - Sunny, the First Family's 18-month-old Portuguese Water Dog, knocked down a toddler during a Christmas arts & craft session in the State Dining Room on Wednesday.  

Both Sunny and her elder "brother," Bo, were led into the room on leashes held by an aide to visit with military children invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to the unveiling of the holiday decor.

But Mrs. Obama was holding Sunny's red leash as the pup got a little exuberant and knocked down two-year-old Ashtyn Gardner, who clutched a goody bag as she fell to the carpeted floor.  Mrs. Obama gasped, and yanked Sunny back, pulling the dog up on her hind legs as she did so.  

Mrs. Obama immediately helped Ashtyn to her feet.  Chefs and guests gathered around the craft table also gasped as the golden-haired toddler hit the deck, landing on her back.

Ashtyn's dad, in uniform, snaps a photo as Mrs. Obama holds Sunny
The child was completely fine, dad John Gardner later assured reporters, so much so that he took smartphone photos of his tiny daughter with Mrs. Obama after the incident.  Sunny was far better behaved just moments later, and Ashtyn patted her on the head as Mrs. Obama, kneeling, held the leash.

The family has two dogs at home, Gardner said, so Ashtyn is used to dogs.   A member of the military, Gardner is from Mobile, Alabama, and currently works in Virginia, he said, in military health.  His wife and two other children were also at the event; the day marked the first birthday for Gardner's youngest.  

Mrs. Obama returned a number of times during the craft session to check on Ashtyn, and chatted with her and gave her a hug before departing.

Sunny and Bo with another tiny guest
After the incident with Ashtyn, Sunny and Bo remained in the room, and mingled with other children, still on leash.  There were no other incidents; both dogs were otherwise calm during the busy event, which included a huge scrum of press in addition to guests.  

At one point, Sunny, still on her leash held by Mrs. Obama, amused herself by licking some boom microphones held by members of the media.

Sunny is marking her first Christmas at the White House, and though she has been around visiting children before--Mrs. Obama had her in the Blue Room when she surprised visitors on the day the White House first re-opened for tours following months of sequester closures--she is "much friskier" than Bo, President Barack Obama said shortly after the pup arrived at the White House in August. 

Mrs. Obama waves farewell to Ashtyn
The Sunny knockdown rapidly made headlines, and it will no doubt become Gardner family legend, fitting perfectly with Mrs. Obama's holiday theme of "Gather Around: Stories of the Season." 


Sunny investigates boom microphones during the event
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*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama