Mrs Tiggy-Winkle ("Tiggy," on the right) and Miss Wagamuffin ("Muffin," on the left) have some advice for the Obama girls. It is based on about eight years' experience of being dogs. Here is what they have to say:
Dogs are wonderful! Every family should have one! A dog is a girl's best friend! May we sit on your lap? Can we go for a walk? Will you give me a treat? Why are you just sitting there when you could be throwing a toy for me to chase?
But seriously, girls--all puppies are adorable. If a hundred puppies gathered in your backyard, you could easily fall in love with all of them. Choosing the right one for years of happiness, though, takes a little thought. Here are some things we hope you'll think about.
1. We dogs usually depend on the mom. We think she's our mom, too, and we like to follow her around and ask her for things. (Lap? Walk? Treat? Toy?) Be sure to choose a dog your mom wants to spend plenty of time with.
2. We plan to live 14, 16, even 18 years. When you adopt a dog, you are making a long-lasting commitment. Your puppy will probably still be in your family when you leave to go to college, when you get your first job, when you get married. This is another reason to choose a dog that your mom is crazy about. You want that dog to be there when you come home to visit!
3. We know you are thinking carefully, because you realize you need a low-allergy dog. We found a list of low-allergy dogs here. We like the list, because between the two of us we represent four of the ten breeds mentioned: yorkie and schnauzer (Tiggy), poodle and shih-tzu (Muffin). The other low-allergy breeds are maltese, portuguese water dog, soft-coated wheaten terrier, lhasa apso, irish water spaniel, and kerry blue terrier.
4. We like your idea of getting a cross-breed (we are cross-breeds, and we are just about perfect!). Cross-breeds are often healthier than purebred dogs. If you get a purebred dog, though, you'll be OK if you get it from a very careful, responsible breeder. The Humane Society has recommendations on how to find a responsible breeder.
5. We hear you are favoring goldendoodles. They are lovely dogs with good dispositions. But watch out--you may be allergic to the golden half. Portuguese water dogs and soft-coated wheaten terriers look a bit like goldendoodles, but might be better for your allergies. Or you might want a cross-breed that includes two low-allergen dogs.
6. Are you sure you want a big dog? We have to ask this, because we are little dogs--and as we have explained, we are wonderful. People with allergies often need to bathe their dogs once or twice a week. Our mom puts us in the kitchen sink and uses a sprayer to rinse us. Bathing us doesn't take long at all, even though she carefully cleans up the sink with bleach and disinfectant afterwards (she wanted us to tell you this, in case you ever come to our house for dinner). If we weighed 50 pounds, our baths would be a much bigger production.
7. Also, big dogs need a lot of outdoor exercise. We love our walks, and when the outside temperature is above 40 degrees, our mom walks us a couple of miles a day. But when it's raining or terribly windy or cold--you're from Chicago, you know what we mean--we stay inside and run up and down the stairs for exercise. We can do this because we weigh 10 and 13 pounds. Are you willing to take your dog for long walks or playtimes outside in all weathers? And have you noticed that people who take big dogs for walks have to carry really big plastic bags?
8. Have you thought about how you are going to train your puppy? He or she will need to go to doggy school or to work out with a personal trainer. Some people think medium-sized or big dogs are easier to train than we littler ones. Hey, it sure is necessary to train those big guys--you don't want a 90-pound doofus that jumps on visitors, especially if the visitors are heads of state! But we little dogs need training too. We love to work for treats.
9. Be sure to get a dog who likes to do what you like to do. I (Muffin) am a lap dog. It is my calling in life. If there's a lap, I sit on it. If there's a face, I kiss it. I like to play now and then, but most of the time I'd rather just sit on you and adore you. On the other hand, I (Tiggy) am a terrier. I can't help myself--if I see something unusual, I bark. If I see something little and furry, I chase it. If I see an overstuffed chair, I dig a hole in it. This is what I do. My mom loves me anyway because I'm cheerful, good-hearted, playful, and sweet. We (both of us) want you girls to find a dog that likes to do what you want to do. And what your mom can tolerate (see points 1 and 2). And it would be good if the dog didn't bite reporters...
10. People are talking about whether you should get a puppy or an older dog. We came to our happy home when we were past puppyhood. I (Tiggy) had lived with someone who said he had "too many dogs." Silly man, he didn't have me spayed. What did he expect would happen? When I was about to give birth, he took me to the pound. I might have died there, but a rescue group found me and gave me and my puppies a temporary home for a couple of months. Then I moved to my present home. I (Muffin) got lost. I lived on the streets of Chicago until somebody found me and took me to the pound. Then I was moved to another pound. A rescue group found me there, and from there I was moved to my present home. We (both of us) think that it's wonderful when people rescue older dogs and give them a chance at happiness. On the other hand, if a responsible, caring family like yours had taken us when we were puppies, we would never have had those scary experiences. So it's OK if you get a rescued dog, and it's OK if you get a puppy from a responsible breeder. The important thing is to give your dog a permanent, loving home.
We are eager to see pictures of your new dog. Or dogs. Two girls, two dogs--makes sense to us. Talk to your mom!