How Good is Ella the Dog?

Ella in ParisWe ask that rhetorically, of course. But, really: how good can one dog possibly be?

Yesterday, she started a gantlet of being subjected to her master’s needs by submitting to a photo shoot for Reader’s Digest at Runyon Canyon, the local dog park. While the photographer snapped away, calling her name for attention — “Ella! Ella!” — dozens of local hounds scampered beside the klieg lights, sniffing and peeing at liberty. Ella, we know, would have preferred to be playing with them. Instead, she stayed in her spot (beside her dad), pretending to care about looking glamorous and sympathetic.MK and Ella

Then, when the shoot was over, we piled into the car, which she’s been stashed in lately with depressing frequency. (She doesn’t hate the car, but she doesn’t love it, either. Her yard, filled with birds and squirrels and receptive grass, is a much happier place.) Our next stop was a home for developmentally disabled adults — the term now employed for “retarded” — where Ella frequently performs therapy dog work. On this morning, she submitted again to being photographed with dozens of groping hands on her fur — a group portrait. She didn’t complain.

Afterwards, she spent the next six hours with a film crew from Animal Planet, which asked her to sit, stay, come, lay down, look this way, look that way, and do it all over again 49 times. Several people petted her, and that seemed to be compensation enough.

The previous day she mingled with 2,500 high school students at a reading event. The next day she’ll be on the UCLA campus, being ogled by more than 100,000 visitors to the Book Festival there. And all she’ll ask for is a doggie treat.

Most commentators utter the phrase “man’s best friend” with a healthy dose of cynicism. We don’t think that appellation is an overstatement, especially when applied to our Ella. She’s an extraordinary animal and an even more extraordinary friend.

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