The new First Pet will be an as yet unnamed puppy, according to the Illinois senator’s victory speech in which he thanked his family for their support and told daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven: “I love you more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.”
The girls, who will be the youngest residents of the White House since Amy Carter moved in aged nine in 1977, beamed at the news.
There was no word on the type of dog the Obama family will chose although Michelle Obama indicated in a television interview during the campaign they would like to adopt a rescue dog. Mr Obama had promised his children a dog whether or not he won the election.
The new First Puppy will follow in the footsteps of a long line of presidential pets dating back to George Washington, who had several dogs.
And he or she will replace the most recent canine incumbents, the Bush family’s Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley.
Bill Clinton had a chocolate labrador, Buddy, and Socks the cat, who was, according to the Presidential Pet Museum in Virginia, the first feline to live in the White House since Amy Carter’s cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang.
George HW Bush had Millie, a springer spaniel and the only First Pet to write a book, and Ranger, one of her puppies.
Ronald Reagan had a dog called Lucky and Rex, a King Charles cavalier spaniel, while Richard Nixon had a dog called Checkers as vice president and when in the White House, a poodle called Vicky, a terrier Pasha, and King Timahoe, an Irish setter.
According to the Presidential Pet Museum’s website, while John F Kennedy was in office, the White House pets included cats, dogs, a canary, rabbit and Caroline Kennedy’s pony Macaroni.
Over the years sheep, horses, pigs and cows have grazed on the presidential lawns.
The Virginia pet museum also lists more unusual animals including the wallaby, pigmy hippo and bear owned by Calvin and Grace Coolidge, the herd of elephants James Buchanan received from the King of Siam and an alligator John Quincy Adams was given by the Marquis de Layfayette.