NASA scientists stunned by extra-terrestrial terrier

The stowaway Airedale aboard the Rover
Scientists are baffled by how he got there, and concerned about potential damage

WASHINGTON - As the Mars Pathfinder mission continues to document the movements of the Sojourner Rover, this startling photo, taken on July 11, has sent NASA scientists scrambling for an explanation. NASA sources have identified the animal apparently riding on top of the rover as an Airedale Terrier. He is obviously seated in a lawn chair, and looking quite comfortable despite the sub zero temperatures. It's also deducted that he may, in fact, be searching for a lost soccer ball which appears at the far left-hand side of the photograph.

NASA Scientists aren't commenting on how the dog may have survived the eight month journey to the red planet, although in a press release this morning they stated that they have grave concerns over how the dog's hair may affect the instrumentation aboard the Rover. Frank Wright, spokesperson for the Mars Pathfinder mission states. "if it were a Yellow Lab, or perhaps even a Doberman Pinscher, we wouldn't have to worry so much about the shedding issue. But it's well documented that the wirey hair shed by Airedale Terriers can be very destructive to delicate instrumentation. At this point we're just trying to assess the potential for harm, and trying to figure out how to communicate with him. We've got to find a way to convince him to get the equipment".

Speculations by outside sources say that the extra-terrestrial terrier had obviously stowed away aboard the Mars Pathfinder, although no one has yet to explain how he found room for a lawn chair. According to NASA officials, it's possible that the dog belongs to one of the ground crew, although as yet, no one has come forward to claim ownership. An attempt will be made to get the Rover in position to get a close up picture of the dog's tags from the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP), in order to identify the dog, or it's owner.

"It's really the only thing that makes sense" says John Fisher, long time breeder of Airedales and member of the American Kennel Club. "There's no other way he could have gotten there, and what other possible reason could he have for even wanting to be there?" He added that the soccer ball seen in the photo made the whole thing quite clear.

Mr. Fisher further stated, "He's obviously just lost the ball. Once he finds it, he'll probably get off the Rover on his own. This whole situation shouldn't be surprising to anyone in the light of the fact that it's an Airedale. They're well known for this sort of stunt. If they ignore him, he'll probably get tired, and go lie down somewhere. If they start telling him to get off the thing, though, he'll refuse to budge. That's just the way they are".

NASA officials are currently in high level discussions with world renowned clicker trainers, in the hopes that the dog could be "targeted" off the Rover. They have yet to figure out, however, how to deliver the "primary" or "secondary" reinforcer.

Author Karen Clouston