2006.09.07 Boggle doggy doppelganger

By JEFF PICKELL

Someone plagiarized my dog.

Until last Saturday, I didn’t even think that was possible. I’ll explain.

As you may have surmised from my previous columns, my affection for Darla the dog is matched only by my affection for chocolate milk. It’s intense.

The person in question—the dog plagiarist—I’ve never actually met. A few summers ago, my friend Dolley and I staged an argument on a Western Michigan University internet message board. Pretty much just to make people mad. After, one of the e-onlookers sent me a message to tell me how funny...and handsome...and handsome....and handsome she thought I was.

“Dolley is not handsome,” her message read. “He is very unbecoming. You are much funnier than he is.”

After that, we struck up one of those internet quasi-friendships. I’d check in once in awhile for an update on her boring and idiosyncratic life. When she messaged me, I ignored her, as I usually do when I’m in the middle of a marathon session of Web Boggle. Which is all the time.

But I vaguely recall a conversation, sometime last fall in which I extolled the virtues of a dog called Darla, even e-mailing my e-friend a few e-pictures.

“She’s so cute,” she remarked. “I love her.”

“Away with you! Time for more Boggle! More Boggle!” I replied.

Of course, because it happened so long ago, I’m just guessing that’s how the conversation went, but I do remember how much she loved the pictures.

What happened between then and last Saturday isn’t important. It was mostly Web Boggle anyway.

I was driving from the movie theater to my parents’ house when my friend Amanda called me.

“Do you remember Shannon?” she said.

“I try not to remember Shannon Doherty,” I replied.

“Your internet friend Shannon,” she said. “Idiot.”

“Yeah, what about her?”

“She just posted a picture of her new dog on her blog. It’s the same breed as Darla, looks exactly like Darla, and is named Darla.”

“Really? Wow.”

“Aren’t you angry?” Amanda asked. “She copied your dog! I’m angry.”

Later, Amanda messaged me a picture of the offending dog. She wasn’t kidding, that sucker looked just like Darla.

But truthfully, I wasn’t angry at all, just a little weirded out. Don’t they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

Besides, people are always stealing my ideas and quips. A couple of weekends ago, I went to a party in Kalamazoo with Dolley, during which I explained to a group of interested listeners how the Fighting Irish used to be the Flying Irish, because the Celts were actually a winged—and seagoing—people.

I went on: “Then whiskey was discovered, and doctors began cutting the wings off at birth because sauced up Irishmen were always getting tangled in trees. This was before the invention of fire departments.

Continuing: “Wait, this isn’t funny at all! This is just nonsense.”

Nevertheless, perusing the Western Michigan message board a few days ago, I noticed someone making that same—awful—joke, nearly verbatim.

I’ve witnessed a half-dozen similar occurrences in the last few years, so I figured it was only a matter of time before somebody copied my dog or did something creepy like that, so I shrugged it off. If some e-head wants to copy my dog, who am I to say he or she can’t?

My mom wasn’t so accepting. And later, neither were Dolley or Jimbo.

Mom: I think you have an internet stalker.

Dolley: She plagiarized your dog? Who the #%&@ does that? I mean, really! By the way, I’m not as smart as you.

Jimbo: Down with the imposter Darla! (Jimbo has been saying this for quite a while. He thinks his cat, Rhordy, is the one true Darla).

Darla—the real steel Darla deal—was pretty mum, responding to the news by taking a leap at the sandwich I was eating.

“Darla,” I said, chewing, “You can’t react to every little thing that happens to you by eating. It just isn’t healthy. Drat, I have a hangnail. Grilled cheese sandwich time.”

I think what most disconcerted people about the dog plagiarism thing was that the girl didn’t even bother to think of a new name. She could’ve at least disguised her act with a little Boggle-ization.

I mean Radal, Aarldd and Raald are great names for a dog. And who wouldn’t want a little fluff ball called Larda?

- Sept. 7, 2006
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