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by Dale Connelly, 2/4/00

DC: This is DCR, a news program that's not to be believed. Scientists continued their efforts this week to contact the Mars Polar Explorer. Some weak signals from the Red Planet have revived hope that we at least may be able to determine why the mission failed. The Polar Explorer was intended to search for water on Mars, in keeping with NASA's new plan to do things "faster, better and cheaper." But some critics are suggesting there are even cheaper ways to do this than sending expensive machines into a hostile environment. One such critic, Bobby Don Pluckett, is on the line with us. Mr. Pluckett?

(phone quality)
(sfx: dog barking in bg)

BD: I'm here. (calling off) Git im Boomer! Find the water!

DC: I understand your dog is a dowser.

BD: Actually he's a yellow lab.

DC: But he can find water.

BD: Sure can. A long way's off.

DC: And he's got some now?

BD: Sounds like.

DC: Whereabouts?

BD: Where is it, boy? Point! Well ... looks to be around Beetlegeuse.

DC: And that's in ...

BD: Orion. Up there in the upper left corner.

DC: In outer space?

BD: That's right. Good boy, Boomer!

DC: But how do you know he has?

BD: How do you know he 'haint?

DC: I don't, but it seems unlikely that a dog on earth could smell water millions and billions of light years away.

BD: A dog's nose is a lot better than yours or mine.

(sfx: more baying)

All I knows is, he's pointin' at Beetlegeuce. Last night it was Castor. (In Gemini). Night before last, he was barkin' like crazy at the handle of the Big Dipper. Which is a surprise ... you'd expect it to be in the ladle part.

DC: Maybe he's just ... barking.

BD: Naw, he barks at water. Couldn't take him hunting. Every crick, stream, pond, lake, river, you name it. Got to barking at the water table. Senses it way down in the earth, he does. When my cousin Caleb's well went dry, old Boomer opened up a new one for im. Found just the right spot. Did the diggin' too.

DC: If he smells the water table, I suppose he's barking virtually all the time then.

BD: That's why I had to teach him to look up, which is unnatural for a dog.

DC: And that quieted him down?

BD: For a bit ... then one night he starts howlin' at the moon.
Didn't think nothin' of it, then the next day they said there might be some frozen water up there. So I tried pointing him at the planets. Mercury, nothing. Neptune, a bit. Jupiter, holy cow, he went nuts. That moon up there around Jupiter ... Europa ... it's chock full of water.

DC: And Mars?

BD: I got quite a few yips out of him. I believe there is water there.

DC: At one of the poles?

BD: He was pointing at the south pole when he barked, yessir.

DC: How do you know that? It's a rather fine distinction, at this distance.

BD: He's very steady.

DC: Well it sounds like NASA's spending a lot of money needlessly on probes when there's Boomer, the dowsing dog.

BD: It hain't for me to say, but surely for a hundred million we coulda done it.

(sfx: loud barking)

DC: Maybe it's not water ... maybe he senses life out there.

BD: If it's life "as we know it," it's gotta have water. And if it's life that looks anything like a cat or a raccoon, he'd sure like to give chase.

DC: Maybe as more civilians head into space, you and Boomer can be among them.

BD: All we'd need is a space suit he won't chew up.

DC: Bobby Don Pluckett, and his dowsing dog, Boomer.

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