November 6th, 2008
10:37 PM ET
8 years ago

First Dog takes a bite at White House reporter

A happier Barney, with President Bush.

A happier Barney, with President Bush.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama's daughters have been promised a puppy for the White House - President Bush's dog, Barney, demonstrated his technique for dealing with the media Thursday...sinking his teeth into Reuters TV White House correspondent Jon Decker.

Call it a case of biting the hand that covers you.

First Dog Barney and his handler were out on the front lawn for a walk when Reuters' Decker and another reporter approached.

"He looked very nice and friendly," says Decker. "I bent down to pet him and he just snapped at me."

Decker holds up his right index finger, now sporting two band aids. The First Dog's teeth punctured the skin and Decker started bleeding, so he was sent to see presidential physician, Dr. Richard Tubb. Tubb gave Decker a two- to three-day supply of antibiotics, and told him to come back Friday for a tetanus booster.

"I don't know what he did, but apparently Barney didn't like it," says April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Network, who captured the entire incident on her Flip video camera.

Decker insists he didn't provoke Barney, and that in fact he's good with Scottish terriers. Decker's mother's dog, Fergus, came from the same New Jersey breeder.

"I don't know what set him off," says Decker. "Maybe it was the Republican debacle Tuesday night, the fact that soon he'll be replaced as America's first dog or that I happened to have bacon for breakfast."

President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have promised to get their daughters, Malia and Sasha, a puppy when they move into the White House.

Sally McDonough, press secretary to First Lady Laura Bush, points out that Ryan commented the biting incident is very unlike Barney.

"I think it was his way of saying he is done with the paparazzi," says McDonough. "I've talked to Jon and he is being a good sport about it all and well, Barney is in the White House Dog House."

"He was just in a surly mood this morning," surmises Decker.

Adam Goldfarb, an 'Issues Specialist' on dangerous dogs and dog bites, had his own take on the matter after viewing the incriminating video.

'I think what happened is two things were going on– one is that nobody was picking up on the dog's stress. Watching the video, the dog's posture was very tense. Which is a sign that he was stressed out in the situation. The other thing the reporter did wrong was the way he approached Barney. He approached very quickly, and from above. His hand came downward from up high. And that can be very frightening for a dog, especially a small one."

Cox Newspaper White House correspondent and veteran Bush watcher Ken Herman shared the first of many jokes about the First Dog's attack on Decker. "You know what Barney calls a presidential press conference? A buffet."

Filed under: Extra • President Bush
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. John in VA

    Wow. Even the dogs believe the liberal media myth.

    November 6, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  2. Independent white female patriotic voter

    Dogs take on the mood and emotions of their owners. Barney must be feeling the anxiety Bush feels around reporters.

    November 6, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  3. 3strikes

    it should of been obama trying to pet that dog, hahaha, that dog would know an inexperienced empty suit socialist if it ever seen one.

    November 6, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  4. deidre

    What a ridiculous story. Beat a man while he's down why don't you?

    November 6, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  5. heather4Obama

    Look Barney was just like all of us....Tired of the Politics and the drama. Thats right Barney...Snap Snap Snap. Everyone needs to go home and take a rest. This Country is tired of the last few months of politics. Give us a break and Barney too.

    November 6, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. Texas Trail Dog!

    Hooray for the dog. It's about time someone took a bite out of theses biased Media reporters. They are the direct cause this year of who got elected. They ought to proud of themselves. Namely they destroyed Hillary who should be the 44th President of he United States, You will live to regreat wat had happened.

    November 6, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  7. Jeremy Tampa

    Why is this news? How about covering the protests at the Los Angeles Mormon Temple?

    November 6, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  8. peter

    whoa! someone is mad about leaving the white house

    November 6, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  9. Tiff of lithia springs




    November 6, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. Sebastian

    I wonder wat sasha and malia are gonna name their dog.

    November 6, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  11. Joe Terrogano

    The pup does wander far from the master.

    November 6, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  12. Molly Weasley

    I think Barney is yearning for the wide open spaces of Crawford.

    November 6, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. JImmy boy

    take that liberal media! Bush 12'!!!

    November 6, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  14. kim

    Well it's about time one of them got bit. Smart little repub dog!

    November 6, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  15. Luigi ina California

    Was it a reporter from a "lefty" rag?

    November 6, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  16. Binyamin

    What does the election of Obama mean for Israel?

    November 6, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  17. Our disgrace

    is that this man will never be held accountable for deliberately misleading US institutions and its people for Personal and Party gains.

    We got tooken........tooken to the ranch

    November 6, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  18. Sue

    He's even trained his dog to kill...

    November 6, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  19. Kerry

    And this is relevant because? Seriously what has CNN come to when it comes to reporting thinks that matter and issues people care about. Give me a break. What's going to be next: Dick Cheney gets bit by an ant.

    November 6, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  20. Tomas

    Decker was undoubtedly a left wing liberal.

    November 6, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  21. VPDesign

    Although I feel this story is absurd news not worthy of the Political Ticker and is taking the White House media frenzy too far...I caught the video and I feel the reporter deserved it...any dog person knows that reaching down to a dog you are not familiar with is perceived as a threat to any dog, especially as it appeared the reporter had a bunch of papers in his other hand. This poor dog was obviously surrounded by several people and was out of his comfort zone.

    November 6, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  22. Matt

    bad dog! haha

    November 6, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  23. Jame

    This story makes me happy.

    November 6, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |


    Y A W N

    November 6, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  25. James Dickason

    Good deal–Next time I hope he bites all the Liberal Obamaites. Barney has good instincts and dogs generally know when people are good or jerks. Way to go Barney !!!

    November 6, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
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