Maine Goes To The Dogs

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

Maine has an official animal (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 Stacey Gile.

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

“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 on Feb. 11, 2015, the Lab had its day before state Senators, as Giles’ bill was heard in committee for the first time, with many representative of the retriever community in attendance.

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

If there were any Pomeranian or Shih Tzu supporters among the senators or hearing 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 one in five 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 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.”

    In case you’re wondering which states already have official canines, here they are, in alphabetical order:
  • Alaska: Alaskan Malamute
  • Louisiana: Catahoula Leopard Dog
  • Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Massachusetts: Boston Terrier
  • New Hampshire: Chinook
  • North Carolina: Plott Hound
  • Pennsylvania: Great Dane
  • South Carolina: Boykin Spaniel
  • Texas: Blue Lacy
  • Virginia: American Foxhound
  • Wisconsin: American Water Spaniel