The way things are going around the White House these days, maybe man's best friend is his dog.
Here's a letter "written" by the Reagans' 7-month-old bouvier des Flandres at puppy boot camp somewhere in Virginia earlier this month. Nancy Reagan's press secretary, Jennefer Hirshberg, volunteered the text yesterday:
"Dear Mom and Dad: I hope you had a relaxing vacation. Boarding school is different than life at the White House. Lots of work but also lots of fun. Food's great and I get plenty of exercise. My teachers, Bob and Karen Maida , say I'm very independent and sometimes a little stubborn. But that's okay 'cause I'm learning real well. Enclosed are some photos. I've made plenty of friends of all types. Have a safe trip in Europe. See you when you return. Please don't worry, I'm doing fine. Love, Lucky."
His signature: a lone green paw print.
How much training does a dog have to get to be able to write a letter like this?
"Lucky wrote it with our help," said Bob Maida, owner of Dog Training by Bob Maida, in Manassas yesterday.
Described as a "very nice dog," Lucky has advanced to the point where she now is helping Maida round up the facility's ducks every morning. Maida said she's been "integrated" into the family, which includes a German shepherd, a Doberman, an Irish setter, a Border collie, a sheltie, a half-dozen birds and some cats, to say nothing of the Maidas themselves.
While Lucky does not have a Secret Service agent assigned to her, at least not a human one, she has her own house dog -- the German shepherd -- with her at all times. She weighs 48 pounds, has a good appetite, but has had no "family" visitors yet. She keeps homesickness at bay with a rubber squeaky toy.
The Maidas have some experience with VIDs. They trained the dogs owned by White House Press Secretary James Brady and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
The Maidas will provide follow-up help when Lucky goes home, including instructions to both President and Mrs. Reagan on the care and feeding of the nation's top dog. "It helps the socializing later in life."
"Having a well-trained dog at the White House will in turn encourage people to train their dogs," said Maida.
He declined to divulge the cost of training Lucky, saying "the arrangements have all been worked out."