She Almost Killed Stump!

Texas A&M vet Katherine Snyder saved the life of Stump — Houston's most famous dog — about four years ago. The first time she saw the dog, he was close to death, "lethargic and depressed," and had already spent a week in a Houston clinic.

"We all talked about it, if this is something we should continue or if we should go ahead and put him to sleep," Snyder tells Hair Balls. "We wanted to give him another day, and if he would've been worse, we probably would've euthanized him."

Stump got better the next day, and after almost two weeks of 24-hour care and a "several thousand"-dollar vet bill, the infection in Stump's heart went away.


Westminster Dog Show

"I thought he'd be a normal dog again, but Stump was seven when he came to us with that problem," Snyder says. "I didn't think he'd be showing again because he was older when all of this happened. All they ever cared about was getting their dog back. It was never, 'Can heshow again?'"

So, when Snyder was watching the Westminster Dog Show on Tuesday, she was happy to see Stump's handler, Scott Sommer, on television.

"I saw that he had a Sussex spaniel, and I thought there was no way that could be Stump, because he's just too old for this business anymore," Snyder says. "Then the Westminster announcer said his name, he said 'Stump.'"

Stump, of course, was the oldest dog ever to win the Best in Show at Madison Square Garden. — Paul Knight

Anna Nicole Smith, Opera Star

World, you have waited long enough — you are finally getting your Anna Nicole Smith opera.

Britain's Royal Opera House has announced it will produce an opera based on the life of Houston's favorite stripper/gold-digger/Rusty Hardin antagonist in 2011.

The libretto will be written by the guy who did Jerry Springer — The Opera. (This apparently is the libretto equivalent of hiring John Grisham to do a legal thriller. It's kind of in the guy's wheelhouse.)

The Guardian says to expect depth, not tawdriness: "It is not going to be a horrible, sleazy evening," Elaine Padmore, Covent Garden's director of opera, told the paper. "It is not going to be tawdry; it is going to be witty, clever, thoughtful and sad.

"In broad outline, it will tell the story of her life, the people who influenced her, her progress...Clearly the story is about a woman who met an ancient gentleman in a wheelchair, but it's not going to be a straight narrative; choices have been made about significant moments, selecting which incidents in her life are to be built up."

How British: "Clearly the story is about a woman who met an ancient gentleman in a wheelchair." That's one way to summarize Smith's tale, we guess.

We suggest one of the following titles:

The Marriage of (The Oldest) Figaro

La Bohème with the Bodacious Ta-Tas

The Magic Flute I Had To Work On for a Half-Hour Before It Could Get Hard

Madame Butterface

Così Fan Titties

Whoreiss Gudunov

La Tosc-rew You, Rusty

We fully expect one of these to be ­chosen. — Richard Connelly

Not Tossing Under the Bus

Anyone reading the Houston Chronicle story about a murder case that got declared a mistrial because there were 13 jurors instead of 12 might be forgiven for thinking that Judge Mark Ellis threw his bailiff under the bus.

"Houston Murder Trial Tossed Out After Bailiff's Huge Mistake" was the headline, and in the piece Ellis placed all the blame squarely on the unnamed ­bailiff.

To which a lot of people — and Ellis heard from some — thought: What, no one else in the courtroom could count to 13?

Ellis tells Hair Balls he definitely wasn't trying to pass the blame down onto an underling, and his explanation makes sense.

The 13th juror was an alternate and sat in the jury box throughout the brief trial. After closing arguments, the jury was sent out to deliberate, at which point — out of sight of the judge, the lawyers and anyone else in the courtroom — the alternate should have been dismissed and sent home.

"The first we knew anything was wrong was when they came back in and everyone saw 13," Ellis says. "In 23 years I've never heard of it happening."

He quickly called the two sides up to the bench; they agreed Ellis should interview the alternate in the hopes that she had not actually taken part in the deliberations. But she had, and therefore was the kind of outside influence that's barred and the reason jurors can't talk about cases they're hearing.

"She was very upset," Ellis says.

The matter has been handed over to the sheriff's department; the case itself will be retried. (It's pretty much a slam-dunk conviction, involving a confession.) The accused will be in jail until the retrial.

But Ellis would like everyone to know that he's not blaming the bailiff for something everyone else should have caught.

"No, I'm not being a bad guy here," he says. — Richard Connelly


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