Farewell, Bo: Barack Obama's beloved dog and White House star dies of cancer

The Portuguese water dog was a regular sight at White House events during Obama's presidency

Barack Obama's family dog Bo, who became a popular resident of the White House, died on Saturday from cancer, the former president said, remembering him as "a constant, gentle presence in our lives".

Obama had promised his young daughters Malia and Sasha that they could get a dog after the 2008 election, and Bo joined the family soon after they moved into the president's official residence.

"Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion," Obama said on Twitter, sharing photographs of himself and Bo running down a White House corridor and Bo being petted by children.

"For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives – happy to see us on our good days, our bad days and every day in between," Obama wrote.

"He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table and had great hair."

Bo, a black-and-white Portuguese water dog, was a gift to the Obamas from senator Edward Kennedy, and was chosen because of the breed's hypoallergenic coat.

He appeared regularly at White House events, particularly the annual Easter Egg Roll, met the Pope, visited children in hospital and flew on Air Force One.

"As a family, we will miss Bo dearly," former first lady Michelle Obama wrote on Instagram. "But we are thankful that he lived such a joyful life full of snuggles, games of fetch and evenings spent lying on the couch."

Michelle also said she was grateful for the time the family got to spend with him because of the pandemic, and said that over the past year, "no one was happier than Bo".

“All his people were under one roof again,” she wrote.