Ted Kennedy vs. Henry Winkler: Dog Lovers Face Off on Best Breed for Obamas

ABC News' John Berman reports:

What better way to spend a Monday than in the middle of a fight between Ted Kennedy and Henry Winkler. Kennedy, of course, is the senior Senator from Massachusetts.  And Winkler is the Fonz, or at least was on Happy Days when it was on TV.  What were they fighting about and why was I in the middle? Well the answer to the first question is "dogs," and the second, "because it's Monday I guess."

Really, the story is all about the hunt for the "First Dog."  What dog will the Obama family choose to join them in the White House?  It all heated up after this exchange in the new interview between Obama and ABC's George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: What kind of a dog are we getting and when are we getting it?

OBAMA: The -- they seem to have narrowed it down to a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A medium sized.

OBAMA: Medium sized dog, and so, we're now going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those dogs might come up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're closing in on it?

OBAMA: We're closing in on it. This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary.

So we wanted to talk to owners of both candidates, the Labradoodle and Portugese Water Dog to find out which dog might be better suited for the task.  After deploying the vast resources of ABC News, we learned that Henry Winkler, AKA "The Fonz" was the proud owner of a Labradoodle.  I caught up with him by phone minutes before he was set to go on stage in London as Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

He told me: "The labaradoodle is smart, the  labradoodle is sweet, the labradoodle if filled with the spirit of life.  The labaradoodle hops everywhere, he doesn't just walk, our labradoodle is a girl, her name is, Charlette. And I promise you if the president has a labradoodle in the white house, he can have that dog on the economic team."

He also issued a broadside at the owners of Portugese Water Dogs, "porties" as they are called.

"I understand that it must be terrible to feel so wrong, but the thing is that you are lovely people, enjoy your pets, the labradoodle rules!"

Enter Ted Kennedy.  He loves his 3 Porties (more on that number in a bit.) And he gave us this amazing, fulsome statement by e-mail:

From Senator Edward M. Kennedy:

"A portuguese water dog is the perfect choice for first dog.  The Obama girls -- and their parents -- will love a portuguese water dog.  They're loyal, smart, loving and they became a real part of the family.  And they definitely do not shed.  And if they're lucky, they'll find a really smart dog like mine who can even write a book. My dog Splash wrote 'My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, DC.'

"I take Sunny and Splash to the Senate with me, and they love being around people and being part of the action.  In fact, they're so much fun that we've just added a new portuguese water dog puppy to our family -- Captains Courageous is his name. We call him Cappy for short.  And he's another winner.

"I think the Obama's should double their fun and get two portuguese water dogs.  They love to be active, and they can help entertain each other. 

"I understand that a labradoodle -- also known as a portuguese water dog wannabe -- is also being considered.  Hmmmm.  I hope someone checks into the shedding situation.  I know lots of people who have labradoodles that are more lab than poodle -- and they definitely shed.  Sorry, Mr. Winkler, but that's a fact. 

"I am proud to endorse the Portuguese Water dog as the next First Dog (or Dogs) of the United States.  They have a can do and hopeful spirit, they are smart, they are resilient, they are determined, they are optimistic, and they are tireless.  Sounds like a perfect fit for the Obama Family and the Obama Administration."

Please notice the outstanding attack on Henry Winkler.  It is a real political brawl.  One that will only be solved by some biscuits or petting.

And in the process, ABC News is able to break some news.  Until this moment, we knew Ted Kennedy has 2 porties.  But now, sources familiar with Kennedy's pets say he now has a third. "Captains Courageous," they call him "Cappy" for short.

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