Canine Alter Ego


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1992. All rights reserved.

When Ulysses, that ancient Greek king, returned home in disguise after being on the road for twenty years only his faithful dog -- Argos -- recognized the hero in beggar's clothing.
       
External trappings don't mean much to the canine species. Rich or poor, famous or ordinary, your dog still responds to character and performance. There's no fooling Fido.
       
"The fact that dogs haven't given up on humans completely and still make people their friends shows there must be some hope for the human race," said President Lyndon Johnson, whose beagles stood by him despite that awful ear pulling
.




This ability to see beneath the surface of humans probably explains why dogs, almost invariably, resemble their masters.
       
Take a look at "Top Dog," a coffee table picture book published by Beautiful America Publishing Co.. Seventy-six dogs of the rich and famous are profiled with their owners and the resemblances are uncanny: Joan Rivers with her yapping little Yorkie, Spike; Richard Simmons with a half dozen artificially sweetened Dalmatians; Ivana Trump hugging her toy poodle, Tiapka (woof, woof).

As a species, canines are remarkably adaptive. The same genetic raw materials form Chihuahuas and St. Bernards. And after 14,000 years of befriending humans it seems a breed has developed for every kind of person -- spaniels for sportsmen, Labradors for liege lords, poodles for prima donnas.
       
Working people, you'll notice, tend to have working dogs. If you drive a well-worn pickup, chances are a border collie rides in the back. The larger your home spread, the more likely a German shepherd or Rottweiler keeps watch. If you raise livestock, there's probably a sheepdog or Australian kelpie on the premises.

Office dogs aren't so common, but I once heard of a dachshund that trotted into a business and plucked a sign out of the front window. The sign read: "Wanted: Typist and computer operator. Must be bilingual." The dachshund laid the sign down on the personnel director's desk with a "Woof!"
       
"So you want this job, eh?" laughed the man. "But you can't type."
       
The dachshund went over to a typewriter, jumped up and down on the keys for a while, and brought the pages back.
       
"Wow! Sixty words a minute and no mistakes. That's great! What about computers?"
       
The dachshund trotted over to a computer console, slapped its paws across the keyboard, and pretty soon page after page of letter-perfect documents came spitting out of the office laser printer.
       
"Well, you sure can type and you know how to run computers," said the personnel director. "But you're not bilingual. You have to speak at least two languages."
       
The dachshund reared up on its hind legs, put its forepaws on its hips and went, "Mee-owww!"

Okay, so not all dachshund owners are clever people, nor is everyone who has a bull dog looking to pick a fight. But people and their pets certainly affect each other's behavior.
       
According to "Top Dog," Sen. Robert Dole's schnauzer only barks at liberals, Tommy Lasorda's schnauzer eats pasta, and Dick Clark's Pekingese is older than she looks.

On the other hand, there are also dogs that don't look or behave anything like their owners. A friend of mine in Seattle, as mellow and inoffensive as you can imagine, once told me how his dog killed a neighbor's pit bull.
       
I was shocked. "What kind of dog was she?"
       
"A Chihuahua," he said.
       
Incredulous, I pressed him: "How did your Chihuahua kill a pit bull?"
   
Pulling a frown, he replied: "Got caught in it's throat, I think."




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President Lyndon Johnson Pulling Dog's Ears
Joan Rivers and Dog

Elizabeth Taylor with Little Black Dog





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