Chris Johnson: The best dog in the world

May 5, 2013 

I have found the perfect dog.

Now, before all you weenie dog owners start screeching about how your dog is better than a pit bull or you owners of those little dogs that look like something you mop the floor with start dissing dobermans, this is not a breed debate. I'll debate breads (gotta give it to pumpernickel) but not breeds.

The perfect dog is an awful lot like the perfect pool, believe it or not. No, that doesn't mean it is filled with chlorine or kindergartners' pee. Like the perfect pool, the perfect dog is the one next door.

Of course, that's only if the dog is a good one. If it's one of those little yapping dogs or big woofing beasts that never shuts up, well, I prefer that dog be in another town. Sometimes, they're too loud even in another neighborhood. And when I'm at the cabin in the sticks, one dog can echo for miles, which starts up the dogs over the next few miles. That chain reaction can go on until it reaches little yapping dogs in the city.

But I do love my next-door dog, Rommel. Rommel is a mixed breed -- part Labrador, part wooly mammoth. When that black Lab mix steps on your foot, it's like dropping a bowling ball on it. A bowling ball with paws. How in the world they keep that Lab mammoth in the house and still have furniture is a mystery to me.

Like most Labs, Rommel is friendly to a fault. When he sees another human, he charges like an NFL linebacker. But unlike an NFL linebacker, he just wants his tummy rubbed, ears scratched and head patted. Well, I hear Packers linebacker Clay Matthews likes that, too, but, fortunately, he's never charged me the way Rommel does -- which is good because I just can't see myself scratching Clay's tummy while his leg kicks.

Granted, there are times when I'm not so happy to see Rommel charging my way, including a few weeks ago as I was carrying a can of stain for the pavers on our patio or when I'm out there getting ready to throw steaks over some hot coals. Because he weighs approximately three tons, he could very easily knock over the grill, leading to the potentially tragic outcome of having to broil my steaks in the oven.

Also because he weighs approximately three tons, he probably eats about two tons of food per day, which may be the number one reason I'm glad he's my neighbors dog and not mine. Another is that he occasionally digs holes in other neighbors' yards. If he starts digging holes in our yard, I'm going to train him to do it in one spot. After a couple of weeks, we could have a pool installed.

Recently, Rommel got his feelings hurt when he saw my wife's cat, Sadie, outside on her leash. Yes, I know, a cat on a leash seems a little overprotective, but that's a story for another day. And Sadie obviously doesn't need protecting. When Rommel charged at her with his "I love you and want to be your friend and play forever and ever!" To which Sadie responded by slapping him. Luckily for Rommel (and me), Sadie has no claws, so when she slaps you, it's more like getting a light massage.

Still, poor Rommel looked at me like, "What did I do?" I wanted to hug him and tell him not to lose his love for others and his zest for life, but you can't explain all that to a dog, of course. So I said the only thing I could that he could possibly understand.

I just acknowledged shared confusion, shrugged my shoulders and said, "Women!"

Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. Connect with him at or

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