Maine Statehouse Goes to The Dogs

Thanks to the dogged determination of a woman from South Portland, Maine, her state may soon join 11 others that recognize an official state dog.

Maine has an official animal (the moose), bird (chickadee), fish (Atlantic salmon), and state berry (blueberry). And action during the current state legislative session is on track to provide The Pine Tree State with an official dog – the Labrador retriever, thanks to the effort of Stacy Gile.

Gile, who has owned Labs most of her life and now spends her days with two black Labs, Jack and Amos, helped research and draft LD 107, after she realized the state was lacking an official canine representative.

Maine may soon have an official "state dog!"
Maine may soon have an official “state dog!”

“We realized really quickly that everywhere you went (in Maine) you saw Labs,” said Gile. “I think they would make an excellent symbol for what Maine stands for outdoorsmen, hunting, fishing, friendliness, and a healthy outdoor lifestyle.”

And this week, on February 11, the Lab had its day before state Senators, as Giles’ bill was heard in committee for the first time, with many representatives of the retriever community in attendance, as reported by the Bangor Daily News.

“Here we are, with the most anticipated bill of the month,” Sen. Michael Willette (R-Mapleton), said as he gaveled a roomful of dogs and dog lovers to order.

If there were any Pomeranian or Shih Tzu supporters among the senators or hearing room gallery, they remained respectably silent.

“Like Mainers, the Lab is capable of working under very harsh conditions and has one of the friendliest personalities around,” Dutremble said. “I believe that the Labrador retriever does fit the state of Maine and stands for the very things we as Mainers believe in: hard work, versatility and most of all a friendly demeanor.”

Gile presented the State and Local Government Committee with a plethora of Labrador information, including data that showed there are numerous Maine towns and cities from Arundel to Vinalhaven where more than 1-in-5 registered dogs is a Labrador retriever.

“By sheer numbers alone, they are the de facto state dog,” Gile said.

She also pointed out that Maine is the closest U.S. state in proximity to the breed’s namesake Canadian province.

The committee also heard testimony from a host of other Lab lovers, including a teacher and three students from South Elementary School in Rockland.

“They are excellent family dogs,” 8-year-old Sophia Clayton said. “They can retrieve ducks without damaging them.”

 

How about it? Do you think the Lab would make a great “state dog” in Maine – or just about any other state, for that matter?If not, and if you don’t already have a “state dog,” please tell us below what breed you believe should be your “state dog.”

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One Response to “Maine Statehouse Goes to The Dogs”

  1. Don Boudreau

    Don Boudreau

    I saw on the news tonight about this effort to make the Labrador Retriever Maine’s State Dog. There could be no better choice in my opinion. Since my youth my family has had Labrador Retrievers, we were duck hunters and we ran them in field trials and loved them for pets as well. A few years ago we did a family dedication for my father and for my part I included a story about Dad and Man’s Best Friend. This breed should be enshrined with a bronze statue at LL Bean or in the state house. Here is the story I wrote. Dad was a good friend with the Morning Sentinel Sportsman’s Say columnist Gene Letourneau this picture was taken of Dad when he was hunting on the coast that day with Gene his beloved dog Molly and Clyde Sukeforth. There were 11 kids in my family and working dogs were a big part of keeping us fed.

    “Well I thought it would be appropriate to make a special dedication to all of the hunting dogs that served our family over the years and all Dads’ work training them. For as long as we all can remember we always had dogs. Not simply to be pets but also to be working dogs that could help to provide for the family. It all started back in Winslow when we had two beagles, Rusty and Sandy, a pair of great rabbit dogs. When we moved to Waterville we had a long line of Labrador retrievers starting with Duchess. Duchess gave birth to Lady and Whitey. We used to go to the local college campus and train the dogs in the fields and give them a swim in Johnson Pond. Dad had a way with dogs. I remember a time when we stopped at a house somewhere and Dad wanted to ask the owner of the property if we could train in one of his farm fields. When we pulled in to the drive a bunch of dogs came out to greet us with hair raised and teeth showing. I thought to myself, “It will be a cold day in hell before I open this truck door”. So I looked at Dad with one of these expressions as if to say “what are you going to do now”. Well Dad never even blinked. He opened the door stepped out of the vehicle said “How ya doin boys” and whistled a happy tune on his way to the front door. When the owner came to do the door he said in amazement, “How the hell did you get here”. Dad said “I walked how else”. The owner was flabbergasted and that was the day that I knew for certain that Dad knew how to speak dog language. Lady eventually gave birth to Molly. Molly was a special dog that had a fire that couldn’t be quenched. When I was young dad and I used to go to the field trials whenever possible. Molly had so much intensity that she couldn’t sit still; she vibrated right off the ground with pure adrenalin. In Molly’s first few trials she was disqualified for breaking, which means she would take off before the judge said it was okay to send her. The minute the gun would go off and the bird left the bird boy’s hand Molly was out of the gate with enough energy to kick dirt in your face. After Dad cured Molly of breaking she won five first places in a row and was awarded the best puppy in the State that year. Molly gave birth to many other great dogs and some of her descendants as well as other bloodlines served our families for decades, including Pete, Jesse, Ellie, Rip, Chip, Star & Haley just to name a few. You have heard the expression that “a dog is man’s best friend”. Boudreau’s know this to be true first hand as we experienced many days afield with great dogs that would plunge into frigid water in the middle of winter, battle raging currents and plow through thorny brush and briars all day long just to have an opportunity to please their masters. I think of the many times sitting on the river banks watching the dogs after a retrieve as the water on their coats turned frosty white in the cold winter air. It’s hard to understand how a dog will serve a human to this degree but they do. This reminds me of a recent story Dad told me of how he was duck hunting on the coast one day and Molly had gone out to retrieve a bird. The tidal current was so bad that Molly eventually drifted completely out of site and Dad feared that he had lost the dog for good. But after a while he looked up and on the horizon a small black dot appeared. It was Molly and she somehow mustered the energy to make it back. She reached the shore and just collapsed in pure exhaustion. The real shocker of this story is that she came back with the bird. This is the level of dedication that our dogs have served us with and it’s why they’ve always had a place in our family. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

    And that my friends is why there is no more deserving dog than the Labrador Retriever for Maine’s State Dog.

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