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Jewish World Review August 24, 2001 / 5 Elul, 5761

Robert L. Haught

Robert L. Haught
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Consumer Reports

Dog days are laughing matter, stories set tails wagging -- JUST when you think you've heard everything, another goofy scientific study makes the news. This one is about dogs and the way they laugh.

Patricia Simonet, a psychology professor at Sierra Nevada College, discovered through research that dogs engage in a type of breathy exhilaration which she termed a "laugh pant."

"To the untrained human ear, it sounds like a pant, a 'huh, huh,'" she told the Animal Behavior Society.

Well, if dogs laugh it stands to reason that they probably tell each other jokes, right? Some of the more highly trained canines might even use e-mail.

Imagine a scene in which three political celebrity dogs get together for their weekly poker session: Buddy, former President Clinton's Labrador retriever; Splash, Sen. Edward Kennedy's Portuguese water dog; and Leader II, ex-Sen. Bob Dole's miniature schnauzer.

Leader II: Huh, huh.

Buddy: What's so funny?

Leader II: I just thought of a gag, but I can't tell it because of our ground rules.

Buddy: Right. No Clinton jokes.

Splash: No Kennedy jokes either.

Leader II: If I hear another Viagra joke, I'll bite the one who told it.

Splash: That just about rules out any joke-telling.

Buddy: Wait a minute. There are plenty of funny stories in the news. Did you hear the one about New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani?

Leader II: What's the latest?

Buddy: During his bitter divorce battle with his wife, Donna Hanover, the mayor has been staying in the guest room at Gracie Mansion. That is, when he's not spending time with his mistress, Judith Nathan.

Leader II: Those two women have been so catty.

Buddy: Well, Rudy has packed up and left. He has moved in with a homosexual couple that has a large apartment in midtown Manhattan.

Splash: No kidding!

Buddy: There's a political connection. Howard Koeppel is a big car dealer who is a major fund-raiser for the mayor. Rudy calls him "Mother." Koeppel's domestic partner is a concert pianist, Mark Hsiao. And they have a small dog named Bonnie.

Leader II: So that's where you got this story?

Buddy: No. My owner keeps up with things like that, you know.

Splash: Huh, huh. I guess it's my turn, but I'll have to fall back on some Senate cloakroom tales. Here goes. Two Irish setters went into a bar ...

Leader II: Oh, no, not that one again!

Splash: OK. A rabbi, a priest and Rev. Jesse Jackson were on an airplane ...

Buddy: Uh-uh, jokes about religion are off limits.

Splash: Well, then. All right. A Boston terrier is out walking when he sees coming down the street the former vice president, Al Gore.

Buddy: Not another one of those shaggy man stories!

Leader II: Yeah, what is it with Gore and that beard? He looks like he belongs on a box of Smith Brothers cough drops. I guess you can't blame the guy for wanting to wear a disguise. But somehow Al Gore with whiskers just doesn't seem right. His face is a cross between Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro. What's he trying to do, pass himself off as another Abe Lincoln? Next thing you know, he'll be splitting rails and wearing a stovepipe hat. I can just see his campaign posters: Honest Al, the People's Choice. He'll try to tell you it's an alpha male thing. Bob Dole wouldn't tell you that.

Buddy: Have a kibble.

Splash: Huh, huh.

JWR contributor Robert L. Haught is a columnist for The Oklohoman. Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, Robert L. Haught