Go ahead and pick the kind of dog you don't want to see walking toward you at the end of a leash on a busy sidewalk.
A pit bull?
A German shepherd being trailed by a neo-Nazi skinhead?
Me, I'd take any one of those dogs -- even if it had rabies -- over the kind of dog I'm about to name.
Because the kind of dog I'm about to name is the single, most unpredictable dog in the whole world.
That's right, I'm talking about a Chihuahua.
You don't see a lot of Chihuahuas anymore, but one was coming toward me the other evening on a sidewalk in Towson, being walked by a woman with a clipped haircut who resembled Florence Henderson.
A 200-pound man isn't supposed to be nervous at the sight of a little 5-pound Chihuahua.
But the truth is, as soon as I saw this mutt, I broke into a sweat.
And one thought went through my mind: This is trouble.
See, I don't trust Chihuahuas at all.
Sure, they're tiny, but they always seem to be ticked off about something.
Plus you never know when they're going to erupt, either. They're like a doggie version of the Joe Pesci character in Goodfellas.
OK, is this starting to sound overtly anti-Chihuahua?
But this Chihuahua was also yapping and growling as he walked, so I wasn't getting a real good vibe here.
Speaking of yapping and growling, have you ever knocked on the door of a home where there's a Chihuahua? Try it sometime. The Chihuahua will go absolutely nuts.
He'll start yapping and growling and hurling his little body into the door over and over again.
You think that crazy albino monk in The Da Vinci Code was into hurting himself?
That was nothing compared to the pain a Chihuahua will inflict on himself with a screen door.
And do you know what Chihuahua owners always say when they come to the door and their dog is freaking out?
They always say: "Oh, don't mind him. He wouldn't hurt a fly."
Here is this Chihuahua working himself into an absolute frenzy, yapping and snarling and slamming himself into the door.
He looks like he wants to rip your throat out -- not that he could leap that high, but I'm trying to make a point here.
And the owner is insisting: "He wouldn't hurt a fly."
Here's another thing I've noticed about Chihuahuas: You're never really sure when they've calmed down.
Once you set foot in the house -- let's say you're standing in the foyer -- the Chihuahua might stop yapping and growling for a minute or two.
But then you walk into another room and the Chihuahua goes nuts all over again.
It's like he doesn't remember that he already did the whole lunatic yapping-snarling thing when you first knocked.
It's really unbelievable.
If ever there was a breed of dog that needed psychological help, this is it.
OK, back to the Chihuahua on the sidewalk in Towson.
Now I'm about five feet away from him and Florence Henderson.
Naturally, I'm trying to give him a wide berth. But there are other people on the sidewalk, too, so there's not a whole lot of room to maneuver.
Sure enough, just as I pass the little monster, he lunges at me.
I know it sounds silly, but a Chihuahua will scare the hell out of you when he lunges.
See, they're so tiny and low to the ground, it's like you're being attacked by a crazed chipmunk or something.
Luckily, Flo must have been expecting some kind of weirdness from the mutt.
Because she jerked the leash and pulled him back before he could sink his little ratlike teeth into my ankle.
"Sorry about that," she said, dragging him yapping and growling around the corner.
But look on the bright side.
At least she didn't say: "He wouldn't hurt a fly."
To hear podcasts featuring Kevin Cowherd, go to baltimoresun.com/cowherd.