If I might say a few words about editor Amber’s editorial about adopting shelter pets … I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’ve seen proof 100 times – an adult dog saved from a cage dispenses a lifetime of joyful, snuggling gratitude. It’s an uncanny phenomenon how sad dogs granted a belated home become the most loving and obedient.

During “Empty the Shelters” week, rescue an infinitely appreciative pet and thank me later. After the brief adjustment period, watch the cream rise to the top.

Ya know what’s nearly as priceless as a rescued shelter dog – Al Simpson humor. Big Al recently stood by my side at my IDWS (Inadvertent Driving While Suspended) hearing because that’s the kind of thing the man does for stumblebums like me. Ex-Senators like that don’t grow on trees. As he stood next to me (I’ve never felt shorter) solely for moral support, Judge Darrah asked, “Mr. Blough is being represented by Senator Simpson?”

I explained not and Al spoke up: “God knows though I’ve represented my share in this courtroom; of course most of them are still in the pen.” I heard a chuckle from the personable judge and on the closed-circuit TV saw prosecutor Eichele lit up by a smile. Anytime you have the opposing party laughing – even if requiring a hired gun – it can’t hurt your chances.

In the joviality of the moment, I almost poked Al and said, “Tell ‘em the one about the boy named Merkin.” Not wanting to outrun my coverage, though, I put a discretionary cork in it. I was pleading “guilty with an explanation,” but the financial repercussion was more than reasonable.

This wasn’t the first time Al has judicially spoken on my behalf. Many years ago, I appeared before Judge Ed Webster in a failure-to-appear case, with no defense but my dysfunctional habit of stacking unopened, forgotten mail. Al and our mutual, great friend and Al’s teenaged running buddy, Charlie “Clell” Wynn, sat in the audience and Ed said, “We’ll conclude after I allow your witnesses to speak.”

Al came up and launched into a brilliantly informative tutorial of my OCD and the resulting hoarding clutter at my pig sty. Then Charlie came forward and said, “Ya know Judge, I have a developmentally disabled stepson and he actually has a legal guardian. I’m not so sure Doug shouldn’t have one as well.”

I met eyes with D.A. Kolpitke and imitated Rodney Dangerfield doing the tie-loosening routine. I was unaware my friend Linda also wished to speak on my behalf and said, “I too have a son with mental illness who requires a lot of extra care.”

She returned to the gallery and Ed asked, “Mr. Blough, is there anything you’d like to say before I pronounce sentence?” I said in all earnestness, “Yessir. I knew I had some problems, but never dreamed I was this screwed up.”

Again a judge and D.A were amused and again the arm of the law squeezed gently with only a lecture about the unopened mail defense not being successful a second time. Had Gotti been a quicker wit, he might still be walking among us.

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