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The Baltimore Sun

A dog for Obama

As we've reported here before, Republican presidential candidate John McCain has 24 pets, while Democratic contender Barack Obama has none.

As we've also reported, Obama has promised his family that, win or lose, they will get a dog when the campaign concludes. 

Not that he needs any help with that task, but the American Kennel Club is offering some -- being so bold even as to recommend five breeds and create a website where we can vote on which the Obama family should have: presidentialpup.com

"The AKC has scoured all of the canine candidates to assess each breed’s credentials as potential first pet." the organization reports. Because of Obama's daughters’ allergies, AKC experts made the selection from a list of hypoallergenic breeds.

 “Deciding what breed to get is as important as deciding whether to get a dog in the first place,” says AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “The first step in being a responsible pet owner is to do some serious and careful research to determine which breed of dog is right for you and your family.”

You can vote before August 19, 2008 at www.presidentialpup.com where the winning breed will be announced.

Personally, my hope is Obama (A) wins (B) tells the AKC to take a hike and (C) opts for a shelter mutt.

But, for the record, here (with only a few edits and insertions) is what the AKC recommended, based on how child-friendly each breed was (Obama's daughters are 6 and 9); whether they were good travel companions, their energy level and temperament:

The Bichon Frise (pronounced BEE-shon Free-ZAY) –- A small yet sturdy dog with a white, loosely curled double coat, Bichons are naturally sociable. They have a self-assured temperament and are likely to get along with just about everyone. Their active, alert and curious personalities make them easy to train, and the breed’s has a history of being a companion to noblemen in the courts of 16th-century France.

The Chinese Crested -– (pronounced chai-KNEES Crest'd) -- Their Chinese and African heritage makes for an exotic pedigree, and with its unique appearance it’s certain to turn heads. Coming in two varieties, hairless and the powderpuff, Cresteds are lively, playful and alert dogs with plenty of energy. While they are exceptionally loving and affectionate with children, they are only appropriate for mature children who can be taught to handle this diminutive breed gently and responsibly.

The Poodle (pronounced POOH-dull) -- Although often considered high-maintenance show dogs, Poodles are exceptionally smart and athletic. They excel in obedience training and even as hunting companions. The breed comes in three sizes. While their coat does require frequent grooming, their intelligence and versatility more than make up for the extra care. The Poodle is currently the eighth most popular breed in the U.S., according to AKC registrations statistics, but it spent more than two decades in the top spot -- a testament to its suitability as a family pet.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier’s coat grows longer on his chin and over his eyes, giving him a scruffy appearance, but this intelligent, affectionate and loving breed makes a dignified companion. The breed’s playfulness and courageous spirit would likely make him an ambassador of goodwill in the White House. Despite their affable and gentle nature, they are true terriers and thus must be handled firmly, fairly and with consistency.

The Miniature Schnauzer -- Schnauzers also come in three sizes (although unlike the Poodle, each size is considered a separate breed). The Miniature Schnauzer is the most popular of the three breeds and is an active, alert dog who loves to be the center of the household. This versatile breed makes a sturdy playmate for kids, is highly intelligent and an excellent watchdog.

(Illustrations courtesy of American Kennel Club)

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