You probably know that states have a lot of official stuff, such as state flowers and state birds and state mottos. But did you know that some states have official animals and fish and insects? There are a few that even have state dogs and state cats, but not enough of them do, if you want my opinion.
For example, I'm sad to say that the state of Missouri, where I live, does not have an official dog or cat, but it does have a state animal, which is the Missouri mule. And Kansas, which is right next door to us, has the American bison, but it doesn't have a state dog or cat either.
Texas, which is where I was born, has a state dog that is called the Blue Lacy. I have to admit that even though I am a Texas girl at heart, I had never heard of this breed of dog. But it turns out that some brothers, Frank, George, Erwin, and Harry Lacy, invented this breed back in the 1860s. They bred English Shepherds, greyhounds, and wolves together with maybe a little coyote thrown in. The blue lacy dogs were meant to be herding dogs that could work the family's wild hogs, just like in the book Old Yeller. So anyway, this is the only type of dog that started out in Texas, so that's why it's the state dog.
Maryland has both a state dog and a state cat, and so does Massachusetts. The state dog of Maryland is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, which is a type of hunting dog that was bred to help duck hunters in the cold water and marshes around Chesapeake Bay. Maryland has an official state sport, but it is not duck hunting, it is jousting. So their choice of dog has nothing to do with their choice of state sport.
The state cat of Maryland is the calico, which is not a breed, it's a color pattern. But I guess it was nice of them to choose a state cat, even if it's not a particular breed. And anyway, calico cats are pretty, plus they have the same three colors as the Baltimore Oriole, which is the state bird of Maryland, so that's why calicos got to be the state cat.
In Massachusetts, you can find the Boston Terrier as the official state dog. This makes sense because Boston is an important city in Massachusetts, and it's where the Boston terrier got its start, which I told you about in a previous blog entry.
The official state cat of Massachusetts is the tabby cat, which is a color pattern and not a real breed, the same as the calico cat. I'm not sure why the people of Massachusetts chose the tabby cat to be their state feline, but I guess they had their reasons.
And while I'm talking about state cats, I will go ahead and tell you that the only other state that has one is Maine, and it's the Maine Coon Cat, which really is a breed, as my kitty brother, Charlie will tell you because he is supposedly a Maine Coon Cat, even though he has never been anywhere close to Maine.
Well, okay, now it's time to talk about more state dogs. In Alaska, you've got the Alaskan Malamute, which is a good choice, since that breed got its start in Alaska, and it also takes part in the state sport, which is mushing.
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is the official dog of Louisiana. I already wrote a whole entry about this breed, and it is my second all-time most popular blog entry. But what I didn't tell you then, because I didn't know this, is that the state sport of Louisiana is boar hunting. And the Catahoula Leopard Dogs are used to control the hogs by barking right in their faces. Since hogs don't like this and since they also have sharp tusks, the dogs wear Kevlar vests, chest armor, and wide collars to keep from getting hurt.
New Hampshire has the Chinook as its state dog. This is another breed I had not heard about, but it turns out that a man named Arthur Treadwell Walden, who lived in New Hampshire, developed the breed, and he did it all from one dog named "Chinook" who was born in 1917. Chinook was Mr. Walden's lead dog when he went on the Byrd Antarctic expedition in 1929. So he bred Chinook with huskies used in Peary's North Pole expedition. What he ended up with was a sled dog that helped make the sport of mushing popular in New Hampshire, but the official state sport is not mushing, it's skiing.
South Carolina also chose a hunting breed as its state dog, the Boykin Spaniel. A man named L. Whitaker Boykin did a lot of breeding to get a little spaniel for hunting and retrieving that could ride in the small boats that hunters used in the swamps.
The Great Dane is the official state dog of Pennsylvania, but I don't know why. Maybe the people in that state just wanted a really big dog to be their official canine. Or maybe all the people who came over from Germany and settled in Pennsylvania happened to like Great Danes a lot.
Virginia picked the American Foxhound as their state dog, and this is because George Washington, who lived in that state, pretty much developed that breed. But I already told you about that in my blog before.
And the last state I'm going to tell you about is Wisconsin, where the official dog is the American Water Spaniel. This breed got started in the middle of the 19th century, and nobody knows where, exactly, but the best guess is that it was probably developed in the Fox River and Wolf River valleys of Wisconsin.
So that is the whole story of official state dogs and cats. Maybe more of them will get to be officially chosen by states pretty soon. I think I'm going to lobby the Missouri legislature to make the basenji the state dog of Missouri. And the reason why basenjis should be chosen is because I live here! Then maybe, while I'm at it, I can get them to make the Missouri state cat be the dilute tortoiseshell, like Chloe, or else the tuxedo cat, like Charlie.