Scout O’Mal­ley, Top Dog in An­napo­lis

The Washington Post Sunday - - The Reliable Source -

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.

O’MAL­LEY’S PRESS OF­FICE PHO­TOS

Gr­rrrrrrr! Scout takes a loud ex­cep­tion to vis­i­tors wan­der­ing out­side his do­main in An­napo­lis.

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