Hero of Those Dog Days of Summer

The air was perfumed with . . . well, miraculously, excitement, considering that nearly 70 dogs were bounding about.

The hostess, bless her, had the foresight this year to hire an official party pooper-scooper. So everything was perfect.

Except for one poor man who was sitting on the lawn. His head and shoulders-- boing! --were nothing but a springboard for an out-of-control party animal trying mightily to take a bite out of a helium-filled balloon floating nearby.

This sort of bad behavior occurs each year when scores of Boston terriers and their owners converge in Santa Monica at the Boston Tea Party hosted by Lise Allard Selznick, whose Darla is a star of TV (“L.A. Law”) and motion pictures (“The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag”).


Selznick seems perfectly normal. She holds a respectable job as director of contracts syndication at Orion Pictures. But she is rather attached to her dog--so much so, in fact, that Darla preceded her mistress down the aisle at Selznick’s Malibu wedding last June, sporting a white satin harness with a ring pocket.

I happen to have a soft spot for Darla, who is the mother of my own first-born daughter, Perry Violet. It is a deep and shameful family secret, revealed here for the first time, that Perry Violet is the product of accidental incest between Darla and her brother.

Perry doesn’t know this, of course, but we bought her at a slight discount because of her less-than-fresh gene pool.

Darla was quite testy with her daughter at the party. First, she pretended she didn’t know her, then she tried to bite her head off.


What can you do?

Show me a mother and daughter who never snap at each other and I’ll show you a world without therapists.


I know what you retriever people are thinking.


People like you have only two words for Boston terriers: “Uh-gly!” The less verbal of you tend to point and laugh.

But we who own them see only beauty in black-and-white.

Of all the pooches possible, we have chosen (or in my case, been forced by a spouse) to consort with a canine that is not only thought by much of the rest of the world to be unattractive, but clearly ranks at the top of the list for annoying personal habits.

(A typical Boston Tea Party conversation goes like this: “ My dog snores louder than a chain saw.” “Oh yeah? My dog can get her tongue down your throat before you even have time to open your mouth!” “Really? Well, my dog can clear out a room in five seconds flat.”)


No breed can top the Boston for demonstrations of affection. And therein, as long as you don’t mind tongue kisses or flatulence, lies its extraordinary charm.

“Great dogs,” one guest said. “Just keep them away from open flames.”


The highlight of Saturday’s fifth annual party was the presentation of a medal to Los Angeles Police Department Detective Larry Kagele, whose only apparent shortcoming is that he owns a German shepherd.


Greatness was thrust upon Kagele last January, when he was alerted to the snatching of a little Boston beauty named Maude from the Woodland Hills back yard of Henri and Sandy Kemp. The dognaper demanded $450.

Fifteen cops, four plain cars and a couple of black-and-whites, naturellement , moved in to make the bust, aided by a police helicopter in case the perp got loose. He didn’t; they put the collar on the creep.

“Our hero” reads Kagele’s medal.

Oh sure, Kagele has been involved in bigger busts. In 1988, he smashed a theft ring at Los Angeles International Airport as its 20 members prepared to board a plane to Chicago. He helped snare notorious child killer Theodore Frank. And of course, there was his own well-publicized run-in with the law, when security guards at a Granada Hills grocery store handcuffed him for passing out campaign literature during his unsuccessful race against Councilman Hal Bernsen in 1991.


But here is what makes the man a hero: Kagele coordinated the rescue of the hapless Maude in spite of what he knew he would face. From colleagues.

They call him Ace Kagele, Pet Detective. They gave him a furry doggy mascot. They yap and woof at him when he walks into the West Valley station.

Boy that must hurt.

“Nah,” said the handsome 51-year-old law enforcement veteran. “I’m a big boy. I can take it. I get my hair permed and they call me Brillo Pad too.”


By the end of the party, Kagele said he was thinking of adopting a Boston.

We might have known.

Clearly, the man is drawn to the scent of danger.

* Robin Abcarian’s column is published Wednesdays and Sundays.