The Gardner family was attending a White House holiday celebration where they and other military families viewed decorations and mingled with first lady Michelle Obama.
"Ashtyn is a dog lover, we have a black lab at home," so she was "most excited" about meeting Bo and Sunny, Lt. Gardner explained. The two-year-old was decorating cookies with the other children when the moment she'd been anticipating finally happened - the first lady let the dogs out.
"She was so excited!" "She went straight for them, reaching out to hug Sunny," Ashtyn's father recalled. "The next thing you knew her shiny shoes were in the air!" Without shedding a tear, Ashtyn got right back up. While it was unclear from her father's vantage point whether Ashtyn tumbled herself, or the dog knocked her over, the two-year-old later told her parents the fall was a result of Sunny's affection, "he was kissing me."
When the first lady bent down to console Ashtyn, "she asked, 'are you okay sweetie?'" to which Ashtyn nodded her head. Obama then inquired "Do you like my dog?" Ashtyn's response was firm, "NO." Her blunt response was "the most hilarious part for us," her father reminisced. "She loves dogs! I have no idea where that came from!"
The Gardner family left the White House in great spirits, and assured that "if Ashtyn remembers anything from the event, it's getting that big hug from the first lady and playing with the dogs."
"It was a heartwarming moment that we'll cherish forever," said the Navy lieutenant. As for Ashtyn, the big day at the White House left her exhausted. She was passed out in the backseat during their hour-long drive back to Germantown, Md.