John Grogan archive: Doggone fugitive could go county

Commentary

What we have here is not just another petnapping. What we have is themakings of a No. 1 country music hit.

Something like, "Doggone, my doggie's on Death Row, and I'm stuck at homewith the fleas."

The subject of this hit-song-in-the-making is a yellow Labrador mix namedPhantom, who was sentenced to die by lethal injection for mauling a10-year-old neighbor girl.

Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control deemed Phantom a menace and lockedhim up to await his last meal. Enter Phantom's owner, Marie Fravel of West Palm Beach, who began waging a last-ditch battle to save her 11-year-oldpooch's hide.

("He's a surly cur, and he stinks to boot, but he's everything to me.'')

Fravel was not having much luck with the canine appeal process when, asluck would have it, Phantom's ticker started to act up.

("My hound's old arteries are about to bust, and I'm left with a brokenheart.'')

Animal control officers agreed to release Phantom to his veterinarian, whohad been treating the mongrel's bad heart. That's when the dog disappeared.

("Phantom's now invisible, and I'm a mom on the run.'')

An early morning rendezvous

The vet, Dr. Richard Kunz, reported that Fravel came to visit her dog athis office about 7:30 a.m. on Monday when only an assistant was on duty.Fravel asked to take her ailing pet for a walk, and that's the last timeanyone has heard from either of them.

The pair are considered pawed and dangerous and should be approached onlywith a generous supply of Milk Bones.

("The only heat he's packin' is a set of pearly whites.'')

County officials consider Phantom stolen and want him back. The only onewho might know the pair's whereabouts isn't talking.

"If they think I'm going to say where Phantom is they're barking up thewrong tree," said Phantom's lawyer, Barry Silver.

Many loyal women have chucked it all to follow their lawbreakin' men. ButFravel may well be the first to do it for her lawbreakin' Lab.

It all adds up to Nashville nirvana. All the country music elements arethere: a sad-eyed hound, a prison, a death sentence and a good-hearted woman.If only Fravel were dating the dog catcher ...

("I love you Mr. Dog-catcher man, but you'll never get my pooch.'')

This story is so perfect, in fact, Hollywood may be the next stop.

Remember Thelma and Louise? If the story of two renegade women on the runfrom the law could be a hit, so can the sequel: Phantom and Marie. It'll bethe story of a misunderstood hound and his dedicated mistress, livin' on thelam, moving from town to town in search of a reprieve.

Just the pooch for the part

I'm not sure what actress would be best to play the mistress, but I'd behappy to volunteer my own dysfunctional yellow Labrador, Marley, for the dog'srole, especially if they promise to keep him on Death Row after the movieends.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before the movie, we need the song.

And it goes like this:

Dum-du-duh-dum, dum-du-duh-dum ...

My doggie never hurt nobody

Till he bit the girl next door.

He knocked her down and mauled her face,

And then went back for more.

Now the dog catcher has come around to put my pooch away,

But first he'll have to find us, and that will be the day.

Me and my dog, Phantom, we're runnin' from the law,

Me on my two hoofers; him on his four paws.

If you spot a pooch in sunglasses with a muzzle on his snout,

You've surely found my Death Row dog; stay back, he'll bite you, too.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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