Measure proposes Cairn terrier – Toto’s breed – as state dog of Kansas

By Beccy Tanner

January 26, 2012 05:00 AM

We’ve got a state insect, bird, song, animal and tree.

Now comes a proposal for a state dog – the cairn terrier, the breed that played Toto in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Kansas has a state reptile, for goodness’ sakes,” said Brenda Moore of Augusta, obedience chairwoman with the South Central Kansas Kennel Club.

So why not a state dog?

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Like Kansans, Moore said, “Cairn terriers have a gusto for life. They are very smart and very loyal, although they can be a little bit of a digger – like all terriers can.

“I’ve lived in Kansas all my life. I am a middle-aged woman and would like to say I’ve done something great for my state before I am dead and gone. I’m hoping this will go through.”

Moore contacted State Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, about proposing a bill designating the cairn terrier as the official dog breed of Kansas. Last week, he introduced House Bill No. 251.

“They just thought we needed a state dog,” Trimmer said Thursday. “It is one of those things that when a constituent asks you, you do.

“I realize we have very critical, critical issues at the state level. But our constituents and their issues are very important to them and that’s why I introduced it for them.”

But Toto?

“If we are going to have a state dog, I think that is the appropriate choice,” Trimmer said.

Before any bill can be passed, the proposal will go to a committee – in this case, the House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. There will be a hearing before it goes to the floor for a vote.

“The first time I get on the floor to do anything, I expect to get barked at,” Trimmer said.

The last time Kansas adopted a symbol was 2010 when it declared the official state grass: little bluestem.

Trimmer hopes the bill goes through the committee and passes with a quick vote.

“We certainly have a lot of very important issues to deal with, especially in terms of economy,” he said. “I hope we can do this quickly, and I don’t mean for it to be a time waster.

“I mean, I remember when we had a 3 ½-hour debate over the state grass. Should it be big bluestem or little bluestem? And the people from western Kansas wanted to know why it couldn’t be buffalo grass. One of the best amendments was to make it Johnson grass because it grows everywhere in Kansas.”

This isn’t the first time someone has tried. In 2006, Wichitan Annette McDonald led a petition drive to designate the cairn terrier as the state’s official dog. McDonald was able to get several thousand signatures, but no one to support her proposal.

Two of the most recent campaigns to name a state dog have been started in schools. An Alaskan kindergarten teacher in 2007 created the campaign for the Alaskan malamute, and in New Hampshire, elementary school children led the efforts for the Chinook, a type of sled dog.

“As dog club members and dog lovers, none of us in our group own any cairn terriers, but we thought because of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ situation, it would be the ideal dog,” Moore said. “We thought we could avoid conflict that way because no one would say we had to pick their dog.”