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Blondes have more fun -- even bulldogs

July 24, 2008

Beth says Hannah the blonde bulldog is not this smart. Well, Hannah may be this smart, Beth allows (she is never one to minimize the animal's qualifications), but certainly Hannah is not this devious.

Opie and I disagree. It's a classic case of the boys versus the girls.

Right off, I admit this is a ticklish situation for me since it involves Hannah (the girl) being the puppet master and Opie (the boy) being the dupe. But I would submit to the court that Opie's young age makes him susceptible to the guiles of an older woman.

It all began when Opie took to making house calls, specifically to the neighbor's house about a quarter-mile down the lane to visit a new Airedale puppy named Katie. He visits other shut-ins as well, including a set of groundhogs who moved away after taking one look at the 100-pound bouvier de Flandres and deciding that they did not wish for a piece of the pie.

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And when you're that close to the main road, might as well chase a car or two while you're at it - as many Americans are doing in these days of high gas prices, Opie makes an effort to combine trips.

Needless to say, this type of behavior is Not Allowed, and lands the animal in some pretty serious hot water - including massive scoldings and solitary confinement in the house - with each new infraction.

Hannah has noticed this.

Not that Opie is really in need of a co-conspirator. He's pretty good about lying in the yard and pretending to be asleep - until I turn my back, at which point he goes skulking off down the lane, looking back from time to time to be sure he hasn't been detected.

If he has, he will yawn, stretch and make a casual U-turn before plopping back in his original spot, as if the only thing on his mind was to get the blood circulating a bit.

But increasingly, I noticed him becoming more brazen. He'd wander off, whether I caught him or not, oblivious to my calls. This was odd since he can be disobedient, but is generally not aggressively disobedient.

Then one day I figured it out. The epiphany came as a glint of blonde, maybe 50 feet into the dark woods. Looking closer, I saw, peering out from behind a tree, a ghostly little bulldog face, beckoning like the twin girls in "The Shining."

In dog language, Hannah was calling to Opie - "C-o-m-e ... d-o-w-n ... t-h-e ... l-a-n-e. C-o-m-e ... d-o-w-n ... t-h-e ... l-a-n-e.

In an instant, I had it. Hannah would get Opie's momentum headed in the forbidden direction. Then, while I was in hot pursuit of the boy dog spitting dust and profanity, the girl dog would coolly walk back to the house by another route and feign sleep under a shade tree.

Excitedly, I outlined this new development to Beth: "Don't you see? It's not Opie's fault." For a second, Beth was in a tight spot. To deny my theory would be to diminish her dog's cunning and native wit. But to give the bulldog credit for such skullduggery would open Hannah to criminal proceedings herself.

Finally, she sidestepped the issue: "He should still know better."

Know better? The dog who thinks cabbage is a toy, who thinks alpaca poo is food, who thinks - oh, never mind. There was no point. Boys will be boys, but girls stick together.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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