Scout O'Malley, Top Dog in Annapolis

Scout, the O'Malley family's Airedale terrier.
Scout, the O'Malley family's Airedale terrier. (O'Malley's Press Office)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Sunday, April 29, 2007

A highly 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.

Give the Queen a Hand, but When It Comes to Bowing . . .

Can't wait to see Queen Elizabeth II next week! The Virginia governor's office has a new Web site about the queen's visit full of useful tips for royal gawking and protocol.

Wait, what's this? "Bowing is not required of U.S. citizens; shaking hands is acceptable. In Great Britain and the Commonwealth states, men bow and women curtsy."

Since Virginia is one of the four U.S. states officially designated as "commonwealths" (also Kentucky, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania), is there some obscure, historic obligation for residents of the former English colony to bend a knee? Didn't we win the revolution?

Royal watchers will recall that then-chief of protocol Leonore Annenberg (wife of the former ambassador to Great Britain) set off a flap in 1981 when she publicly curtsied to Prince Charles upon his arrival in Washington: U.S. officials aren't supposed to bow to a foreign power -- especially on American soil. Nancy Reagan set off a flap in England when she flew to London and refused to curtsy for the queen. Confusing, huh?

A call to the governor's office cleared up the mystery: The protocol information was provided by the queen's people, who didn't make the distinction between all those British commonwealths and the four U.S. states. The short answer: Virginians don't have to curtsy, bow or kiss her ring -- wait, isn't that the pope?

Readers Tell Us

No one seems to agree on who was right and who was rude in the epic clash between Karl Rove and Hollywood enviro-activists Sheryl Crow (left) and Laurie David at last week's White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

Judith writes: I'm a member of Earth First. Had someone accosted me at the dinner, my own reaction would have been like Karl Rove's.

Auburn, Calif.: That Laurie David would feel so empowered to even bring something like this up on a social occasion, uninvited, tells me about her highly inflated, self-important self-image.

Rockville writes: Do you believe for one second that Rove wasn't the one who might be touchy or feel threatened by the subject of global warming and might thus react in such a dismissive and disproportionate manner? Why would these two ladies, both used to charming donors and persuading people to follow their cause, instigate a fight at a social event far from their usual turf?

Logan Circle writes: Are you surprised that there are not more dust-ups at the White House Correspondents' Dinner?

Surprised -- and disappointed. Keeping our fingers crossed for next year, though. Send your story tips and comments to

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