You know why I own a yellow Lab? Because I couldn't stand having a dog who is smarter than me.
For nearly 15 years, I was teased, provoked and, sad to say, outsmarted by the wisest dog I've ever known, a Portuguese water dog named Jackie Robinson. Or, as my buddies called her, "Jackie the Wonder Dog."
I've been thinking of Jackie this week because President Obama made good on a promise to his daughters, Sasha and Malia, by accepting Bo, a Portuguese water dog, as a gift from Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and his wife, Victoria. I'll admit the president is probably smarter than me, but I submit he is no match for a Portuguese water dog.
Don't get me wrong -- I loved Jackie and wept the day we put her down -- but I told my wife we couldn't get another Portuguese. I need a dog who will listen and not one who can control me.
We got Jackie as a wedding gift a few weeks before our marriage and, by the time we got married, my stereo speakers were chewed up and a good portion of my clothes had been destroyed. Jackie taught me to put my clothes away.
Two days before our wedding, I awoke to the sound of her chewing something metallic. I reached for my glasses. Nothing. I jumped up, squinted, and there she was, wagging her tail with my glasses between her front paws. One stem was chewed off completely. The second stem was about half gone, so I just let her finish. She knew I was mad, but as I showered she stepped in with me, got soaked and let me know she was sorry. Irresistible.
The Obamas are busy folks, but they will learn not to leave Bo alone.
Back in the days of record albums, Jackie loved to grab mine off the shelf when I was out. I found Lou Reed, Van Morrison, the Clash and the Rolling Stones on the floor and destroyed. Irreplaceable.
The Obamas should know that no food is safe. Jackie would open the fridge, pull out casseroles, meatballs and whatever else wasn't strapped down. She'd pull open the vegetable bin to scarf carrots and broccoli. Tupperware was no challenge. We still have containers with her teeth marks on the lid that I just can't throw out.
We even put child-proof safety locks on the refrigerator door. The locks slowed me from getting my snacks, but Jackie had no problem cracking them. Turkey, ham, pasta, Chinese leftovers or pizza. We'd come home and see a path of scraps and food that Jackie didn't like on the kitchen floor. The trail led to the dining room, where the licked-clean containers were hidden under the table, about 20 feet from the fridge.
Wastebaskets were fun, too. We went through about six in the kitchen alone. The kind where you step on a pedal to open the lid were no obstacle for Jackie. She'd look at us with those big brown eyes as if to say, "All I need to do is step on this pedal and it opens." So that's what she did.
She'd eat everything in the basket except for the liner and the coffee grounds that were disgustingly left on the rug. Jackie knew we'd be mad, so she hid the 3-foot wastebasket in different places every time.
Even our efforts to thwart her by putting her in a dog crate when we were away failed. We'd lock her up, but she could open her crate from the inside.
My wife's favorite story is when a friend stopped for a visit with a huge suitcase. When we returned from dinner, we discovered that Jackie had unzipped the suitcase and unbuckled the clasp.
She took out a smaller carry-on bag that was packed inside and surrounded by clothing. Jackie unbuckled the clasp on the carry-on and found a shaving kit.
Inside the kit, which Jackie unzipped, she found a dog treat that our friend had planned to give her. It was in a Ziploc bag, which Jackie un-Ziploc-ed. She then gnawed the treat from its packaging and finished it off.
We found the packaging and all the luggage scattered under the dining room table.
When reading about Bo's ancestry, we learned he is from the same line as Jackie.
They are related.
Good luck, Mr. President.