Mornings with Barney: The True Story of an Extraordinary Beagle
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"I enrolled Barney in obedience school. If I had known how being ‘bad’ would be part of his charm and would add to his success on camera, I might have given this more thought." — Dick Wolfsie
Television reporter Dick Wolfsie was walking out his front door on the way to the studio one wintry morning when he found a shivering beagle pup on his front steps. Dick placed the stray inside the house and was off to work. When he returned four hours later, his wife and young son were cleaning up what remained of the shredded couch, the living room curtains, and his wife’s favorite high heels.
The family would soon demand that Dick either take the dog to work with him each day or find the troublemaker a minimum security facility. So, off to the station they went. Ultimately this naughty pup nosed his way in front of the camera with Dick. Soon the dynamic duo would make TV history.
For ten years—more than 2,500 morning news shows—fans watched the renegade pooch chew, howl, and dig his way through every one of Dick’s reports. But he also burrowed his way into everybody’s heart, becoming a beloved media star. Mornings with Barney is a hoot from start to finish.
series Lost, or Without a Trace. Barney’s escapes came in two forms: your common garden variety that resulted in a neighborhood adventure for him and us, and those that occurred during the TV show, a departure that I had to deal with live, on the air. Those were scary. And they happened often. I sometimes wonder how my life, my career, would have been different if any of Barney’s escapes had been successful. I never thought Barney was running away from me, but his wanderlust motivated him to
he had been spotted, I’d head in that direction with a photo and a glimmer of hope. Nothing. Did people not know the difference between a beagle and a basset hound? Or did they think I didn’t? Many of the calls were about a beagle stray that lived downtown. I knew this was not Barney, but the little guy was quite a story himself. He had been living on the streets for several years, frequenting the back doors of local eateries. He was a survivor, a testimony to how a hound can make it on his own.
inside. Lee was right. The next day in the supermarket, a procession of people in line to buy salt and snow shovels asked if Barney had survived his ordeal, and a few who had not seen him in later segments were a little concerned he had been lost in the drifting accumulations. Barney was not lost in the drifts, nor did his appearance—albeit requested by the boss himself—wind up making me a wealthier man. I never got more than a 4 percent annual raise the entire time I worked with Barney. This
coach wanted a little publicity for the team, which was on a winning tear and had one of the best pitchers in the state. I interviewed the coach in the first segment and then as the sun came up we decided to show the celebrated hurler in action. The first athlete struck out on three blinding fastballs. Barney was sitting on the bench enjoying the attention of the rest of the team. At the plate, the next batter swung wildly, squiggling a ball down the left infield foul line. Barney scampered off
championships and the pageant that selects the Fair Queen. Mary Ellen has a thing for the baby rabbits and exotic chickens. I look forward to the demolition derby and—I hate to admit this—baton twirling. There is clogging. I hate clogging. Then I see it at the fair. And I still hate it. For the almost 800,000 people each year who spend a day at the fair, this is more than a trip, it is a tradition. Grandparents love to share memories with their grandkids. But they won’t share their deep-fried