Scout O’Malley, Top Dog in Annapolis
Ahighly visible member of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is facing allegations that he acts aggressively toward others, interrupts meetings and often attempts to assert authority far beyond his actual powers: Scout, the O’Malley family’s Airedale terrier.
In just three months in office, Scout has become one of the most prominent and fearsome figures in Annapolis. A fixture in the tulip-filled yard of the governor’s mansion, he routinely chases tourists and legislators from inside his wrought-iron fence, assaulting them with a barrage of loud and angry barks.
“Some people are shocked,” said an aide to a top lawmaker. This aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because she wants to maintain good relations with Scout, confirmed that the barking is loud enough to hear across the street inside the State House, though “it’s not distracting to the point that the state’s business doesn’t get done.”
On a recent afternoon, our colleague John Wagner watched as Scout trotted the lawn, tail curled up, seemingly happy — until a woman with a baby stroller ventured close. Scout made a beeline to the fence and stood his front paws on a lower rung to confront them. “ Rrrooff-rrrooff-rrrooff-rrrooff! ” he said. It was the same when a man with his own leashed dog walked past.
The family adopted Scout as a puppy last summer from the SPCA, a gift for young son William, and the pooch kept a low profile during O’Malley’s final months as Baltimore mayor. But the move to statewide office — and a much bigger yard — may have fed Scout’s ego. His public profile quickly eclipsed that of Lady, a laconic, older golden retriever mostly seen lying around the mansion’s back steps. The O’Malley’s newest dog, miniature poodle Winston, isn’t allowed in the yard much since he’s small enough to slip through the fence.
Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for O’Malley, maintained that Scout “has adjusted well to his new home” and is simply eager to communicate with lawmakers and the public: “He’s very excited about all the progress we’ve been able to make in Annapolis this session.”
Fred Mason, head of the Maryland AFL-CIO, which supported O’Malley’s candidacy and keeps offices on State Circle across from the mansion, noted that Scout sometimes greets him in a friendly fashion, following him from the other side of the fence. “Other times he’ll get aggressive. And I’m thinking, ‘But I’m the same guy that was here yesterday.’ ”
Mason, however, welcomes the gruff new presence near the State House. “We certainly feel a lot more secure,” he said.
Grrrrrrrr! Scout takes a loud exception to visitors wandering outside his domain in Annapolis.