Man's best friend

I was thinking about dogs the other day as I watched the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

I'll always remember that when I was a kid living on Partridge Street there were about five dogs in the neighborhood. One dog that lived close by was a German shepherd, or as I called it, a "police dog." The Hessbergs had a police dog I was afraid of, called "Whiskey." I think "Whiskey" turned me off to German Shepherds for life.

We had a great, friendly English bulldog named "Spike." We referred to him affectionately as "Spikey." It's hard to believe now, but if Spike wanted to go out, we just opened the door and let him go. Our neighbors, the Wachters, were his friends and he often went down to see them. He wandered around Partridge Street, walked up Hamilton Avenue and came home a few hours later. No one went out looking for him. Everyone knew Spike and no one was afraid of him. My family wasn't afraid to let him out on his own because Spike knew that when he returned he would get a biscuit.

People often think that the kind of dog they know best is the best dog. That speaks well of dogs. I know English bulldogs best and that's what I think. They look mean and grumpy but they're very friendly and loving.

I'm not one of them, but there are lots of people who like poodles, chows and chihuahuas. I never cared much for airedales but I never knew one of them well, so probably I'd change my mind if I did. Irish setters seem good, but I've never really known an Irish setter, either. One thing I know for sure, most dogs are nicer than most people.

The most popular dogs in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club, from 1 to 20, are: Labrador retriever, German shepherd, Yorkshire terrier, golden retriever, beagle, boxer, bulldog, dachshund, poodle, shih tzu, miniature schnauzer, chihuahua, rottweiler, pomeranian, Doberman pinscher, German shorthaired pointer, pug, Shetland sheepdog, Boston terrier and Maltese. I'll take their word for it, but I've never known a shih tzu, a chihuahua, or a rottweiler. I was surprised that the Great Dane was only 23 and the cocker spaniel was 25.

It seems to me they make a mistake with the bulldog listing by not separating the different types of bulldogs. I think there's as much difference between an English bulldog, a Boston bulldog and French bulldog as there is between a rough collie, a border collie and an Australian collie.

I like big dogs. I understand that people living in a city prefer small dogs but I don't. The bigger the better, in my judgment. Big dogs seem nicer to me. Some little dogs are apt to be snippy and they seem to bark more. Big dogs don't have anything to prove.

My source says there are more than 60 million pet dogs in the United States. I doubt that figure. How does anyone count dogs? I couldn't find any listing for the number of dogs owned in other countries.

I don't care what anyone says about their dogs. Giffy, my English bulldog, was the best dog ever. He wasn't smart or fast or beautiful. He was just a great dog.

Write to Andy Rooney at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207, or via email at

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