Shamed by our dog Chester…

I stumbled upon a recent article in the Wall Street Journal which had the startling headline:

“I Hate Doodle Dogs”: Endless Poodle Hybrids Spark Backlash

The ultra-popular pets have driven a wedge between owners, breeders and people who say they’re tired of seeing the pooches everywhere

I mean really, who could hate this guy…

The story says the growing popularity of the cross breed between poodles, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Irish setters, English sheep dogs, etc., has created animosity toward the breed because they have become so trendy. The story said that in the “trendy capitol of the world,” Portland, OR, the doodle dogs are everywhere.

“It’s like showing up at a party wearing the same dress as everybody else,” one Portlandier said after visiting a local dog park.

A young woman in Alabama put up a social media post last year entitled “I Hate Doddle Dogs” because she was “sick of how these dogs have become a fad.” She said she did not want the dogs to be seen as “exotic things.” I can assure you that our Chester is not exotic. Another person noted that there is “a lot of doodle snobbery” out there. I don’t think we’re snobbish about Chester and he’s certainly incapable of being snobby to anyone, except maybe cats.

We had only seen one Goldendoodle before we got our rambunctious dog Chester. That dog, SY (owned by good friends Mike and Geri) and Chester are best friends, — true”BFFs.” Watching them wrestle on a “play date” is the best cheap entertainment on the planet.

We decided on the breed, not because it was trendy, but primarily because my wife has bad allergies and the dogs are largely hypoallergenic. We’d had a Golden Retriever before and liked its friendly attitude. And we knew poodles were very smart, so the mix of the two made a lot of sense to us.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sy-and-chester-1.jpg
Sy, left, and Chester. Best buds.

And Chester didn’t come from a puppy mill. We found him at a small farm outside Santa Fe where the owners raised chickens, cattle, sheep and occasionally sold pups produced by their collection of two sweet female standard poodles and a friendly Golden retriever male. Chester had humble beginnings. He spent many of his first formative weeks inside a repurposed chicken coop alongside his seven other siblings. He was kept at night in a house full of kids who I’m sure adored all the pups.

Goldendoodles now can sell for several thousand dollars from the “Doodle mills” around the country. Chester cost us only a smidgen of that amount — way less than $1,000, we’re proud to say.

The Wall Street Journal story says doodle dogs are “beloved for their intelligence, cheerful disposition and, in some cases, minimal shedding. Many people find them exceptionally cute.”

Chester as a puppy, “exceptionally cute.”

Chester is all of those things. He has more personality than any dog we’ve ever owned. He loves every human he comes in contact with, especially our next door neighbors, our good friends Cheryl and Joel (who still triggers accidental peeing incidents by Chester when he shows up at our house.) And of course he goes bonkers when he sees our grandkids. He likes most other dogs except for large dark colored breeds and yappy small ones. He’s especially fond of people who offer him treats and most people in the neighborhood know him by name. Our mail delivery lady leaves him treats in the mailbox every day.

Chester is not without his faults. He has occasional bouts with bad breath that could peel paint off the wall. I’m often awakened at night from a dream where I’m touring the sewers of Paris, only to discover him at bedside panting in my face. He doesn’t have a “soft mouth,” — he rips treats out of some people’s hands as if he has never been fed. He will chase cats and squirrels, given the opportunity. And we fear he has permanent puppy brain.

But now, I guess, we are going to have to start wearing signs around our necks apologizing for picking a trendy breed when we walk him. Chester, of course, will be clueless about the shaming, expecting everyone to offer him a treat while he leaps in the air for attention. and offers them a genuine smile.

Chester’s “smile” when he sees people he really likes

What I’ve come to appreciate and learn from Chester and all dogs is how much joy they receive from simple things. They don’t need a new BMW, a house on the beach, a Mediterranean cruise or a new laptop to make them happy. They’re happy with just meeting someone new, taking a long walk along the irrigation ditch where there’s lots to sniff and a chance to wade in the muddy water, a game of tug with a leash, a scratch behind the ears, a ride in the pickup or a treat of cheese now and then. And of course, they never feel guilty about how many naps they take in a day. 

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