CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- We the people, in order to form a more perfect state, require a state dog. Simply put, if West Virginia has a state reptile, butterfly and soil, we should show our support for a state dog. We have an overwhelming population of canines in state animal shelters, a chance to feel as if we are not just a branch of Virginia and pride at stake!
In 2011, after doing a state project for class, three students set up a stand in the entranceway of Holz Elementary advertising the idea of a West Virginia state dog. In one morning, we collected 187 schoolchildren's signatures. At that point in time, about 300 kids attended Holz.
We promoted the "West Virginia black dog" after a suggestion from the school nurse, Danita Nellhaus. She suggested a mixed breed since most dogs you find in West Virginia are mixed breed, not purebred.
If we succeed in making the "West Virginia black dog" the state dog, think of the improvements that will go to the Humane Society and its charges. The amount of black dogs in our shelters should be significantly reduced due to the popularity of darker colored dogs.
Currently, the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association has difficulty finding good homes for black dogs. It even advertises a "Black Friday" deal, in which the adoption fees are lowered for black dogs (and cats). So if we accomplish the state dog campaign, lives will be saved in the process.
There are also the issues of pride and state individuality. At the beginning of the rush for a state dog, we first proposed a beagle, but we scrapped the idea after much thought since the beagle, although a spectacular dog, is too alike in looks to the American Foxhound, which is Virginia's state dog.
The "West Virginia black dog" as state dog would not only set West Virginia apart from Virginia but from the rest of the United States as it would be the only mixed breed dog representing a state. Therefore, we, the West Virginians, may be proud of our state and our dogs.
Those involved with the original project didn't think any more about it until West Virginia's sesquicentennial this summer. The papers with the signatures had been locked away in a backpack in the closet of lost and forgotten objects from school years past, but in a recent expedition in to that closet, the backpack was discovered.
We still are several thousand signatures short. Those of you who want to help us in the acquisition of a West Virginia state dog can like the Facebook page "West Virginia State Dog" to stay updated on the cause.
DID YOU KNOW?
* Eleven states have state dogs: Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
* Maryland was the first to name a state dog. It chose the Chesapeake Bay Retriever in 1964.* The last time a state dog was designated was in 2010. It took the Alaskan population two years to collect enough signatures for their government to even consider a state dog.