Gone to the Dogs

by Brian Clarey

(photo by Nicole Glazier. Ed Cone, the moon, Barack Obama and Duke

Greensboro journalist and blogger Ed Cone has at least one thing in common with President Barack Obama — and it is not, as some of the commenters on his blog, www., would have you believe, his predilection for socialism and partisan politics.

No, it’s that they are both owners of Portuguese water dogs. The Obamas got theirs, Bo, in April of last year. But the Cones were early adopters to the breed, picking up Luna almost eight years ago, when the breed’s combination of hypo-allergenic fur and a sweet disposition was less well known.

“Getting this dog was like interviewing, if not for Harvard, then for an exclusive kindergarten.” Cone says from his office on South Elm Street while Luna kindly watches on.

For a time when he would walk her downtown, he says, everybody wanted to know: “What kind of dog is that?” (Admission: I once referred to her in print as a “poodle,” a sin for which she has forgiven me).

“Since the Obamas got Bo, the recognition factor has gone up 100 percent,” Cone says. “I worry about the breed, over-breeding. I love dogs, so I worry about it for all breeds, but I would be delighted if everyone had a Portuguese water dog.”

The Obamas got their dog to make the White House seem more like a home for their two young daughters, Sasha and Malia. Cone says his family went through a similar decisionmaking process.

It was his daughter who brought the issue up, when she was 8 years old. And Cone struck a deal. “I promise you,” he told her, “you will have a dog.”

When they brought the pup home, Cone says they wanted to give her a Portuguese name to honor her heritage, but “we couldn’t pronounce any Portuguese words.” The name Luna came about as an Iberian compromise.

And over the years she has become one of his most trusted companions, the subject of more than a few of his newspaper columns and blog posts, as well as a fixture on downtown Greensboro’s busiest street.

“She’s very popular with the drunks on South Elm Street,” he says.

She’s a good dog, Cone says, who tore up the house just one time, when she was a puppy. She has a fierce bark but a sweet nature, she likes eggs and among her fears, Cone says, is the sound of flatulence. “She’s not well trained,” Cone says. “She’s well behaved.”

And in the eight years he’s had her, he’s managed to teach her but a single trick, which is documented on YouTube.

Cone, a lifelong Tarheels fan, will say, “Luna would you rather see Duke win another national championship, or would you rather die?” At that, Luna rolls on her back and puts her paws in the air.

For this she gets a treat and a pat on her furry head.

“The thing to remember is, they’re dogs,” Cone says.

Luna, the Portuguese water dog of Greensboro journalist and blogger Ed Cone, seems to be smiling. (photo by Brian Clarey)