Americans prefer a mutt for Obamas

January 14,2009
Lindsay Hutton( )
According to an Associated Press-Petside.com poll released today, most pet owners – by more than a 2-1 margin – say the Obamas should choose a mutt for their first dog over a purebred. The survey also found that over 50 percent of pet owners and 43 percent of all Americans said it was important to them that the Obamas adopt their dog from an animal shelter. I find it amusing that anyone thinks they know what sort of pup is best for the Obamas, or that they have a say in what the president chooses for his family and where he gets it.

Don't get me wrong – I grew up with a mutt, and she was a wonderful and dearly loved member of the family. But that's partly my point: Who has the right to choose your family members? You might as well do a poll asking what sort of person Obama's daughter Malia should marry when she grows up. I also acquired two dogs when they were already adults, and although they lived long and happy lives with me, they carried a bit of "baggage" from their puppyhoods, which was never quite resolved. It's kind of like buying a used car that seems okay when you test-drive it, but later turns out to have problems.

Obama said over the weekend that his family is choosing between two breeds: a labradoodle (which is a cross between a poodle and a Labrador) and a Portuguese water dog, the kind owned by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Obama has indicated that the family likes the idea of rescuing a shelter dog, but 10-year-old Malia is allergic and most shelter dogs are, as the president-elect put it, "mutts like me." Both the labradoodle and Portuguese water dog are low-shedding breeds.

If it makes the public feel better, the labradoodle is a mutt, technically speaking, which is why the low-shedding characteristic is not guaranteed in every labradoodle. I suspect that if one were lucky enough to find one at a shelter, it likely would be one who fails to meet that criterion. And it would come with a bit of baggage.

If the first family-elect is seeking a compromise, they might contact rescue groups for the labradoodle and the Portuguese water dog. But I think everyone should butt out of this decision. What do you all say?