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Seven-month-old canine comedian thinks everything is funny

October 18, 2007|By TIM ROWLAND

Never hold a chocolate-chip cookie in one hand and a dog biscuit in the other.

I don't want to get into any details - but it can get confusing, is all.

Treats are necessary to encourage the Bouvier de Flandres named Opie to do anything these days. The puppy is about 60 pounds and seven months old, which in dog years means he's about 5.

But he's showing all the symptoms of being a teenager, in that he has reached the age where he will do nothing unless he judges there is something in it for him.

Worse, and I suppose some would consider this to be poetic justice, he has turned out to be the world's biggest canine comedian.


He thinks everything is funny.

When he's racing the bulldog Hannah up the stairs, he loves to "put her into the wall," like a NASCAR driver. When he sees Hannah ambling toward the couch, he'll race across the room and dive up on it just ahead of her, then lie there with this great big grin on his face.

The whole world is a joke. Now I know why so many people can't stand me.

His favorite game is to sneak his toys out-of-doors, which Beth doesn't allow for some reason. This sets off a Titanic battle of wills, complicated by the fact that the BDF's mouth is so big he can rather easily conceal anything up to the size of a set of luggage.

"Fine," Beth will say, as he's standing there with the remnants of what used to be a stuffed raccoon in his mouth. "Then you're staying in." And she'll shut the door and begin to walk away. Opie, in turn, his face dripping with fake remorse, will drop the toy and come to the door again, begging for forgiveness and access to the backyard.

"That's better," Beth will say, opening the door - at which point, Opie will bolt back, grab his toy and lunge for the porch, usually to find the door slammed back in his face until once again he drops the toy and petitions for freedom. Again, the door will open and, again, he snatches up the toy and flies at the door. This exercise will be repeated on the order of, oh, I don't know, perhaps 3 million times under the auspices of "it's the only way he'll learn."

Meanwhile I'm sitting out on the patio, idly pulling stick bugs out of my hat, hoping there will be some resolution between Beth and Bouvier some time before my knees need to be replaced.

Occasionally, Opie will succeed and slip through the rapidly narrowing door opening. Kings have not been as excited about acquiring the throne as Opie is at winning this game.

Once he has the toy outside, you might expect him to play with it, but he doesn't. He immediately spits out the shapeless, soggy, offending object and goes off to some other activity.

Clearly, the point wasn't that he wanted the toy, the point was a play a joke on mom.

Look at me. I got the toy out of the house. I am the most hilarious dog ever.

Conversely, sticks and walnuts are not allowed IN the house, for similarly vague reasons. This obviously sets off another round of gamesmanship that can go on to the point that 90 percent of our waking hours are basically spent trying to go in and out of the house.

Thinking he might benefit from some "real world" experience, we took Opie to the Humane Society's "Canines on the Canal" event in Williamsport over the weekend. You know, just to show him that most dogs do not fancy themselves as Groucho Marx.

But for once he was serious. Instead of playing his usual pranks, he spent his time networking - sniffing, exchanging dog business cards and the like. That can't be good.

If we all wake up some morning to discover the county's dogs have draped all our trees with tuggie toys, you'll know who to blame.

It worries me no end.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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