A state dog? No thanks

By Walt Braun

There’s a reason — beyond the efforts of schoolchildren in one corner of the state or other — that Kansas has a state reptile (the ornate box turtle), a state insect (the honeybee), and a state animal (the American buffalo). There’s also a state bird (the Western meadowlark); a state tree (the cottonwood) and, of course, a state flower (the sunflower). They’re all native to Kansas.

That can’t be said for Cairn terriers, though arguably the most famous ever to grace a novel and the silver screen happened to live on a Kansas farm. That critter, of course, was Toto, the pet of a young girl named Dorothy who, in “The Wizard of Oz,” bore an uncanny resemblance to Judy Garland.

Some folks in the Winfield area think that association is enough for the Kansas Legislature to designate the Cairn terrier as the state dog. It’s worth noting that another effort was initiated in 2006 to designate the Cairn terrier as the state dog, but no legislator would push the bill. This time around, Ed Trimmer, a Winfield Democrat, is carrying the bill, in large part because the obedience chairwoman of the South Central Kansas Kennel Club thinks it’s a great idea. She doesn’t own a Cairn terrier, but she and others think the Cairn terrier’s link with a movie that’s linked to Kansas makes the breed an ideal choice.

We don’t. We love dogs. We also thought Toto performed brilliantly in “The Wizard of Oz” and concede that the Cairn terrier is adorable.

But we don’t want it to become the state dog. In fact we don’t think pets ought to become the state dog or cat — though we could be persuaded to make an exception for Wildcats of the purple persuasion.

In addition to wondering what in the heck Kansas needs a state dog for, we confess to some ambivalence about the whole “Wizard of Oz” connection. The tie is there, and there’s nothing wrong with it; in fact the Oz Museum in Wamego is a nice treat.

Trouble is, there’s vastly more to Kansas than a movie in which a young girl and her dog travel in a dream to a magical land. Yet to a lot of folks, many of whom have never set foot in the Sunflower State, Kansas begins and ends with “The Wizard of Oz.”

Making Toto the state dog would only add to the cliché. And we’d like that to end.

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