By Michael Saul
Daily News Political Correspondent
Woof to the Chief: The First Dog will arrive at the White House in April.
In an exclusive interview with People magazine hitting stands Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about her marriage, life in the White House and, most importantly, the upcoming arrival of the First Dog.
Obama said she favors Portuguese Water Dogs, although, as of last month, a Labradoodle was still considered a possibility. The pup's target arrival date is April, after the family's spring break trip, Obama said.
"So Sasha says 'April 1st.' I said, 'April.' She says, 'April 1st.' It's like, April!" Obama told the magazine.
During the campaign, the Obamas promised their two girls, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, a dog, win or lose. The First Family now appears to be in serious negotiations over names.
"Frank was one of them. Moose was another," Michelle Obama said with a laugh and a roll of her eyes. "I'm like, no. Come on. Let's work with the names a little bit."
The First Lady told the magazine that family life in the White House is better than ever.
She and the President wake up early -- she rises at 5:30 a.m. -- and they exercise in the White House gym and enjoy breakfast together nearly every morning.
The White House chefs cook them "mean waffles and grits," she said.
"We have dinner as a family together every night, and Barack, when he's not traveling, tucks the girls in," she said. "We haven't had that time together for (years), so that explains a lot why we all feel so good in this space."
Obama said the secret to the First Couple's well-being is exercise, humor and an extraordinary mellowness.
"Barack has always amazed me at his level of calm," she said. "I see him thriving in this; I don't see the weight. He is calm and clear in a way that reassures me as a citizen."
While she and the President genuinely like and respect each other, she told the magazine their marriage, like everyone else's, takes work.
"I don't want anybody to think it's that easy," she said. "It works because we really work at it…We have a strong marriage, but it's not perfect."
So far, Obama said she's primarily focused on settling the girls into their new life in Washington. Malia and Sasha are keeping the First Couple grounded, she said.
"Our girls are just complete comic relief," she said. "We're dealing with that age range where they're pretty funny in their observations and sort of lack of being impressed with any of this."
Obama said the girls have the same chores in the White House as they did in their Chicago home.
"People (here) want to make your life easy, and when you have small kids - I've explained this to the staff - they don't need their lives to be easy. They're kids."
Since the campaign, Obama said she's become accustomed to some loss of freedom, such as "trips to Target and all the things that were my errands and my time for me." But she said she still intends to "go over to a girlfriend's and have dinner."