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Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, May 6, 1959

May 6, 2009 |  2:00 pm

Confidential File

Prince Otto I Isn't Even Housebroken

Paul_coatesThere is a base canard, perpetrated by the hopelessly sentimental, that a dog is man's best friend.

A dog, I say to you, is a false friend.

He'll make a slobbering, emotional display of licking your hands. But on a whim, he'll leave you without so much as a backward glance.

I had a dog once. As a matter of fact, I had him until just a couple weeks ago.

He's a dachshund puppy, and believe me, I gave him the best years of my life. He dined only on the most exotic creations dreamed up in the fertile, culinary mind of kindly old Doctor Ross. He slept on a pillow that had but recently been confiscated from beneath my head.

When, in a fit of childish pique, he chewed up my bedroom slippers, I didn't whack him on his baby teeth, the way I should have. I just passed it off with a philosophical shrug.

May 6, 1959, Mirror Cover That dog had it made. But a few weeks ago he hopped out of our parked car in the vicinity of Sunset and Laurel, and disappeared in search of some imagined green pastures.

His name, which I gave him in a weak moment of sheer snobbery, is Crown Prince Otto I. But, if you call him by it, he won't answer. It embarrasses him.

Anyway, since this four-month-old delinquent ran away from home, the family plantation hasn't seemed the same. There's a cloud of gloom hanging over us all.

My kids, who usually can't be made to shut up, have hardly spoken. And my wife, in whose care Crown Prince Otto I was at the time he lammed, has deftly managed to transfer the blame for the whole thing over to me.

"If you had the window of the station wagon fixed like I told you to, he never would have been able to get out," she said.

"If you knew the window of the station wagon wouldn't close you never should have left him in the car, I replied. Overwhelmed by the utter logic of my remark, I glanced at the kids for their approval. But they just stared at me with grim accusation in their eyes.

May 6, 1959, Rapid Transit Plan "There's one thing you could do," my wife said after a moment. "You could mention it on your TV program."

"That's impossible," I snapped

"Impossible, impossible," she said, "everything with you is impossible." She glanced at the kids for their approval. And got it.

"If I do a missing person's program about my own dog, everybody in town will want me to do one about their missing dogs," I explained.

She sniffed disparagingly. "Well," she murmured, "if it's too much trouble." The kids turned their backs on me.

"It's not too much trouble," I shouted.

"It's just..." I stalled desperately for a moment. Then, a thoroughly outrageous inspiration hit me. "It's just that I couldn't do it. It's against the FCC regulations."

"The WHAT?" she said suspiciously.

"The Federal Communications Commission. They have a ruling that says no TV commentator can make a plea in his own behalf on his own program. They could cut me off the air, and even fine me if I asked people to bring back my own dog."

It was a low ruse, but it worked. She fell silent, and thoughtful for a while. Finally she looked up brightly.

"Ask George Putnam to mention it on his program," she said.

"I can't do a thing like that," I replied in a shocked voice.

Kith and Kin Gang Up on Me

"Can't, can't," she mimicked. "Everything with you is can't." My children nodded in agreement.

Rather than lose this happy home I've just described to you, I called Putnam and told him the problem. "Gee, kid, I'm sorry to hear that," he said. (He always calls me kid. It has something to do with the difference in our ages.) "I wish I could help you by putting it on my program.

"But," he added, "it's against FCC regulations."

So, if someone out there has found my dog, please bring him back. I'm telling you for you own good. I happen to know he isn't even housebroken.