I'm always amazed when people ask, "What good are dogs, anyway?" Dogs are extremely useful. Dogs are so useful I'm surprised they're not widely sold in vending machines. ("You got any change? I need a dog.")

This nation was built on the sweat and drool of dogs. When the early pioneer settlers trekked westward in their wagons, they always had pioneer dogs trotting alertly in front of them, keeping a keen eye out for threats, barking at prairie dogs, cactus plants, sunsets, the moon, suspicious constellations, etc.; never ceasing in their vigilant usefulness until finally they reached the Pacific Ocean and turned around and noticed that they were all alone, because the settlers had been wiped out by bears just outside of Pittsburgh.

And the descendants of these courageous canines are still on the job today, protecting American households from deadly dangers such as Easter candy. My friends Gene and Arlene had their house protected from this threat this past Easter by their dog, Clementine. The night before Easter, Clementine found the candy and, sensing the potential danger to the children, courageously ate it all, including a pound of jelly beans and 100 Hershey's Kisses with the wrappers still on. Then Clementine went around vigilantly throwing up colorful artistic patterns all over the household. Happy Easter!

It's little wonder that dog owners are always looking for ways to say "thank you," which is why today I'm pleased to announce an exciting new advance: video for dogs. I found out about this when alert readers Emily Johnston and James Moore sent me an advertisement from an outfit called Weekend Shopper, stating that for $19.95, you can order "Doggie Adventure, the World's First Video for Dogs!"

There's a photograph of a dog sitting with his nose approximately one billionth of an inch from a TV screen, looking alert. "Amazing but true," states the ad. "Dog owners across the country tell us their dogs absolutely love this video."

I had my doubts. Our two dogs, Earnest and Zippy, show no interest in television. They get their electronic stimulation directly from the Dog Satellite, which was secretly launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1972. It orbits the Earth and emits rays that humans cannot detect but that make dogs crazy, which is why they're always leaping up and barking angrily for no apparent reason.

Nevertheless I ordered "Doggie Adventure." When it came, we brought Earnest and Zippy into the TV room.

"Watch the TV!" we told them, which of course made them rush up to us in case we were telling them that we had food.

"No!" we said, pointing. "The TV! Look! TV!"

Eventually we got them pointed the right way, and we started "Doggie Adventure." It's filmed from a dog's point of view, so you're looking through a camera that's 2 feet off the ground. The video is 25 minutes long, during which you, as the dog, have various dog adventures, such as waking up, going downstairs, going for a car ride, chasing some ducks, going to a pet store, and making weewee. I am not making this up. The camera trots up to a fire hydrant, sniffs around it, and suddenly, from off-camera, a stream of liquid splashes onto the hydrant.

"I can't believe we're watching this," my wife said.

"The dogs aren't watching it," my son pointed out. Which was true. Earnest and Zippy, who have higher entertainment standards than we do, were looking out the window and growling at suspicious trees. They totally ignored "Doggie Adventure."

For comparison purposes, I also showed the dogs "King Kong vs. Godzilla," a videotape I purchased at Toys "R" Us for $9.99. This is the one with the scene wherein the Japanese army knocks out King Kong by bombarding him with rockets filled with the juice of narcotic berries. There's also an excellent scene in which a group of Tokyo residents are riding in a commuter train, and the conductor makes the following announcement: "Attention! Attention! Godzilla is approaching!" It sounds as if this is a regularly scheduled occurrence. Which I suppose it is, around Tokyo.

Anyway, the dogs didn't care for this video, either. But my son and I found it far more interesting than "Doggie Adventure," plus it's half the price. So if you need a dog video, this is the one we recommend. Or you could just throw a stick.

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