John McCaslin

When she was the same age as Malia, my daughter Kerry got her own Portuguese Water Dog. Henceforth, Ernest T. Bass (and to think Mrs. Obama turned down her daughters' choices of Moose and Frank as fitting names) was at her side for every adventure a girl and her dog can experience.

"Loyalty was definitely one of his attributes," recalls Kerry's mother, travel and food writer Katie McElveen, who wept with the rest of the family this past Christmas when the curly, jet-black Ernest T. (E.T. for short) juggled his last squeaky duck.

"He'd stand outside my office with a toy and stare balefully. If that didn't get me away from the computer, he'd assume he'd chosen the wrong toy and get another one. He entertained us every night with his toys - one glance away from the television or conversation and he'd launch into his performance, rolling onto his back, tossing his toy into the air, catching it in his paws or mouth, the whole time squeaking it loudly.

"We never failed to laugh and he never seemed to stop loving the sound of it. Some Portuguese bark a lot, but E.T. never did, relying instead on 'fake barks' - proper mouth movement but no sound - and positioning himself near a surface that would allow his tail to make noise when he wagged. E.T. knew what he wanted and how to get it.

"A snack? Stand by the treat cupboard and refuse to move. When called: look at the treat cupboard, back to whomever is calling you, then back to the treat cupboard. We could never outwait E.T. He had the patience of Job."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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