Ten years ago, Steven M. Brown wanted a dog. What it looked like didn't matter. It just had to be healthy, have a nonshedding coat, and be gentle. Would you believe he couldn't find such an animal? Pedigreed dogs are bred for looks, not disposition or health. As a result, many breeds are plagued by genetic diseases--and often are agressive.

So Brown decided to produce his own dream dog. Today, after years of research and searching for suitable foundation animals, he is rearing the first generation of cuddly, 40-pound Charlee Bears, a cross between a Portuguese water dog and a soft-coated wheaten terrier. Only disease-free members will be allowed to propagate the breed. While future generations will vary in color and length of hair, Brown insists they must have teddy bear dispositions. The resident of Brunswick, Me., has apparently tapped into a market need. He has been inundated with requests for the puppies--even at a price of $800 each.

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