LOS ANGELES Help wanted: One trained, easygoing, low-maintenance dog that will work for next to nothing. It was the classified ad that Matthew VanFossan wrote in his head after going blind.
His Labrador retriever, Achilles, “will guide me across busy streets for nothing more than a pat on the head or ‘Good boy,’” said the 31-year-old writer-counselor from Los Angeles. “He loves every bit of attention, but he can also go without it. He’ll let out a low groan if he’s getting too bored.”
The breed’s friendliness, intelligence and love of physical activity helped make it the most popular dog in America for the last two decades, according to American Kennel Club data released recently. Labrador retrievers are widely used as search and rescue, guide, therapy and service dogs, and they’re also perfect for active, outdoors-loving families with children, said club spokesman Lisa Peterson.
Labrador retrievers (22 years), cocker spaniels (23) and poodles (22) have been the most popular purebred dog breeds in the United States for a total of 67 of the 128 years the AKC has been counting. The data from the AKC, the country’s only nonprofit dog registry, comes from paid registrations by breeders and owners of purebred dogs, and makes the dog eligible for AKC events such as dog shows. More than 40 million purebred dogs have been registered since 1884, Peterson said.
See tomorrow’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more.