Jewish World Review May 18, 2004 / 27 Iyar, 5764

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Dogs have changed for the worse | Possibly proving the old saying that if you teach a dog to use a telephone, pretty soon he'll be dialing 900 numbers, Raia, a Norwegian elkhound puppy, was busted recently for making a fraudulent late-night call to emergency services.

Oslo, Norway, police refused to speculate as to what Raia hoped to achieve by calling the city's 113 medical emergency number at about 1 a.m. last Sunday. A dispatcher, after hearing what police described as a "gruff barking sound," sent a squad car to the house of 24-year-old Aleksander Elden, who had been sleeping soundly, unaware of his 4-month-old pup's nocturnal shenanigans.

Somewhere Lassie (or more accurately Lassies) is rolling in her grave.

Lassie, who was old-school down to her last tick, would not think of calling 911 unless Timmy had already been half-eaten by a mountain lion, which in turn was being swallowed by a bear which in turn was about to be flattened by a rockslide if the blizzard didn't kill it first.

Anything else, up to and including an attack by armed, alien Elvis impersonators, Lassie would handle herself after first trying (unsuccessfully) to bring the matter to the attention of Timmy's doltish parents, who apparently had suffered some blunt-trauma head injury in their recent past or else, as babies, had been fed formula laced with lead-based paint.

The Martins never seemed to catch on to the fact that Timmy was the most accident-prone child on the planet, a kid who could not bend over to tie his shoes without falling down a mineshaft or getting cornered by a mountain lion.

Which brings up another point: How, exactly, did the Martins settle on this particular piece of property, an inhospitable land where lions were as thick as fleas, the ground frequently caved in beneath your feet and where there were even -- I'll never forget this episode -- misguided nuclear missiles scattered about the landscape? (Timmy, of course, picked up one and I think tried to make a hair gel out of the green, glowing stuff pulsing inside. Lassie saved the day by sealing the missile in lead, which she had mined and smelted herself, and by injecting some of her stem cells into Timmy's bone marrow with a hypodermic needle she had fashioned out of the buckle on her collar.)

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All I can say is that the Martins' real estate agent must have done one heck of a selling job.

But getting back to the point, which I know is around here somewhere: Lassie tried everything short of a skillet upside the head to alert the Martins to Timmy's latest mishap.

(Lassie scrolls a sheet of foolscap into the old Underwood and begins to type.)

Mr. Martin: Are you trying to tell us something, girl? What are you trying to tell us?

(Lassie rips out the sheet of paper with her teeth and gives it to Mr. Martin.)

Mr. Martin: Timmy's fallen into a cre cre crevice and suffered a broken fe fe femur with possible internal hem hem Oh, here honey. I don't have my reading glasses on. See if you can make it out.

Mrs. Martin: Hem hem Hemorrhoids! Lassie's trying to tell us that Timmy has hemorrhoids! Oh, Lassie! That's nothing to worry about! Come on, dear. Let's go out to the barn and lick the tractor!

But Lassie always manages to save the day, because that's the kind of dog she is.

And because Lassie is that kind of dog, she would never consider calling 911 except in the direst of emergencies and certainly never, ever as a late-night prank.

Which is more than you can say about a certain other dog that was in the news recently.

For shame, Raia. For shame.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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