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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama's Dog Choice

My picks for the new "First Dogs"...for the Pres, a Rhodesian Ridgeback (right). For Mrs. Obama, a Chow (below).
New rumors have us believing the next "First Dog" will either be a Labradoodle or Portuguese Water Dog.

I can only imagine the fits the AKC is having (along with Labrador and Poodle fanciers) over the possibility of the Obama family getting a "designer dog" which is basically a high-priced mixed-breed. There is no such true "breed" as a Labradoodle, after all. Labradoodles are created when Bubba's backyard-bred Lab knocks up Bimbo's backyard-bred poodle. The result is an admittedly very charming mutt that doesn't shed much and has the poodle's intelligence and the Lab's good nature. It's a great mix...but it goes against every principle of responsible breeding and adds to the problem of pet overpopulation and possibly inferior genetics.

The wisest, most diplomatic, and most politically correct thing for the incoming President to do would be to adopt a shelter dog. That would send a message to the American public, and would discourage the inevitable overbreeding that results from increased popularity of any fad dog.

Choosing a Portuguese Water Dog would be the next best thing to a shelter dog. While the PWD would probably suffer from increased popularity too, at least the emphasis would be on "purebred."

Personally, I'd rather have a Labradoodle any day over a Portuguese Water Dog, but then I've never been one to worry about political correctness. Maybe the AKC will eventually make it a breed, and then no one will have to apologize for liking it.

Either a Labradoodle or a Portuguese Water Dog would probably be fine for a couple little girls.

However....if I were tasked with choosing dogs that match the personalities of Mr. and Mrs. Obama, I would choose...

A Rhodesian Ridgeback for the President. This is a long, lean dog. Aloof, cool, pensive. Lots of endurance. Talks a good line, has a presence. Territorial. Can turn pretty nasty when he's ticked off. Don't ever make fun of a Rhodesian Ridgeback's ears.

A Chow for Michelle Obama. Chows are my least favorite of all breeds, but I think she'd get along fine with one. (So does Martha Stewart, and I actually like her.) Chows are sort of cute on the outside--appealing and inviting to the touch. But overstep your bounds and they can turn on you with more unpredictability than any other breed I've worked with. They're difficult to read. They guard their true emotions. I believe they're very intelligent, and their intelligence actually makes them difficult. They're also stubborn. And they are very, very tough.

Whatever they choose, I hope they love their dogs as much as their predecessors have loved theirs. One of the things that always made the Bushes special and approachable to me was their deep affection for their dogs. They were, after all, "empty nesters," and the dogs were their kids. There was Spotty, the Springer who lived with them nearly 15 years and died in 1989. I sent them a sympathy card when he passed on, because I know how they must have felt. There's Barney, the Scottish Terrier who's now nine years old, and Miss Beazley, also a Scottie, who's four. The dogs sleep on the bed with them and, like so many of us, offer the first and last bits of comfort and joy each day in their tumultuous lives.
My hope is that the "First Dog" will be more than a short-lived photo op (remember Buddy Clinton?), and that the First Family won't be averse to paw prints on the White House floor and pupkiss on the windows.