Alan Alda perfectly explains how meaningful it is to own a family dog

Alda is much more of a dog lover compared to Hawkeye. Every dog owner can relate.

Everett Collection

Radar hands B.J. Hunnicutt his letters in the M*A*S*H episode "Mail Call, Again," reading off who they're from as he goes. The first three are from B.J.'s wife. The last one is from "Waggle Hunnicutt."

"My dog," B.J. says.

"Your dog?" Hawkeye repeats incredulously.

"My wife does the actual writing," B.J. explains.

"Surely you jest," Hawkeye declares.

But anyone who's ever loved a dog knows what it's like to miss man's best friend, especially when you’re gone for such a long time. Videos of soldiers reuniting with dogs remain some of the internet’s sweetest, most heart-wrenching content.

"Dogs can't write!" Radar giggles in the scene, and then Hawkeye goes on to quip about a Cocker Spaniel who "covered the dog show for The New York Times" and nearly won a Pulitzer.

But although the character he played was cavalier about the bond between man and dog, Alan Alda proved in one of his memoirs to be deeply fond of family dogs. In Things I Have Overheard While Talking to Myself, Alda describes Bosco, a mutt who belongs to his grandchildren that's "a cross between a dog that looks like a frankfurter and one that looks like a hamburger."

He says Bosco has one brown eye and one blue eye, and he's been professionally trained, so he follows commands seriously. And then Alda sums up this dog's nature by saying "he's all affection."

At one point, Alda notes that Bosco actually brings a lot of meaning into his life as a grandfather, acknowledging the important role the mutt was playing in his own small world, and echoing the sentiment B.J. captures so perfectly on M*A*S*H.

The family scene Alda describes is one that any family with a dog might find familiar. In it, the kids are playing wildly, and then one of them shouts out a command to the dog, "Place!"

Obediently, Bosco retreats to a corner he knows as his "place," and the kids go back to playing. Alda writes, "How long he stays in his place depends on how long the children can go without giving him a second thought."

"I watch and wait for them to notice his suffering and take him into their arms," Alda goes on. "They don’t let him wait too long. They're learning to feel for a fellow animal. And seeing them learn that… adds just a bit of feeling to my own life that it’s been worth living it."

So when you're watching Hawkeye tease B.J. about his wife taking the time to write a letter from the point of view of Waggle, just know that in his heart, Alan Alda actually believes this about man's best friend:

"The soft belly of Bosco, my grandchildren's dog; the dreamy look in his eye when you rub his belly. This is the meaning of life. Both for me and for him."

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Greg 42 months ago
I had a Yellow Lab that had been abused. The day I picked her up at the pound I told her to get in the seat next to me she climbed up and put her head on my shoulder. From then on she was at my side. I will never forget her watching out the window me with concern on her face as I mowed lawn. Any one that says animals don't feel emotions is wrong.
CaptainDunsel Greg 6 months ago
Guide to labs
kkvegas 42 months ago
I'm surprised the article didn't mention Alda's memoir, "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, and Other Things I've Learned." The title comes from an event from his childhood -- his family decided to have their beloved dog stuffed when he died. He learned that (obviously) preserving the dog's body did not mean the dog was still with them. Also, the taxidermist put an unnatural expression on the dog's face, which just made it worse.
KevinButler 42 months ago
I agree with Mr.Alda..A dog is a special part of a family..and they should be treated with kindness, respect and love.
Greg KevinButler 42 months ago
Never trust anyone that dislikes dogs
lynngdance 42 months ago
Technically this is a little off-topic but it has to do with M*A*S*H so it’s not that random.
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Hogansucks1 lynngdance 42 months ago
lynndance — Would you care to sell that to me? I love it !
lynngdance Hogansucks1 42 months ago
Thank you VERY much, I don’t know that it’s THAT good though. But thank you very much for such a big compliment 😁.
Hogansucks1 lynngdance 42 months ago
That’s OK- I’ll just blow up the picture from here and frame/ hang it in my home. Folk art is a nice change- or anything M*A*S*H* related. 🙂
Pacificsun 42 months ago
Sweet story, another nice one MeTV Staff. Thank you! 😉
Seeing this story, got me to wondering about his like/dislike for mice. I think it was in the episode "Mother's Little Helper," {I think it's called,} in the outer office, B.J. is trying to get Hawkeye to hold Daisy, and wouldn't do it. Would Alan Alda actually touch, {without cringing, like Hawkeye did,} or hold one, like Hawkeye wouldn't.
He did pick-up & hold ‘Babett’- a larger lost Radar rodent. 😇.
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