Burning Question

Should Toto be Kansas' official state dog?

One state representative is pushing a bill to give the cairn terrier, the breed that played Toto in The Wizard of Oz, the Sunflower State's official endorsement

More than 70 years after the filming of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy's faithful canine companion, Toto, may finally get the ultimate homage. A local Kennel Club chairwoman has convinced her state representative to introduce a bill that designates the cairn terrier, Toto's breed, as the official dog of Kansas, Dorothy's home state. While the bill has hurdles to clear before it can become a law, it seems that the terrier's state honor isn't out of reach. Here, a guide to the state's "symbolic" effort:

Why Toto?
Kansas dog lovers figured that their state, which already has a state animal (the buffalo) and a state insect (the honeybee), needed an official state dog. And Toto was the obvious choice to avoid a squabble over which breed to propose. "We thought because of the Wizard of Oz situation, it would be the ideal dog," says Brenda Moore, a chairwoman of the South Central Kansas Kennel Club. And making the cairn terrier the symbol of Kansas would be about more than The Wizard of Oz, Moore says, since, like Kansans, the dog is smart, loyal, and has a "gusto for life."

How popular is the idea?
A lot of Kansans seem to be open to it. In fact, this isn't the first time someone has tried to make the cairn terrier the state's official dog. In 2006, a Kansas schoolteacher's petition garnered thousands of signatures, but lacked a legislator to back the cause. But Brenda Moore, hoping to "do something great" for her state, contacted state Rep. Ed Trimmer about bringing back the issue. To her delight, he agreed to draft a bill. "It's one of those things that when a constituent asks you, you do," Trimmer told The Wichita Eagle.

Is the bill likely to pass?
It's a toss-up with a bill like this. "You just never know," Trimmer says. "Sometimes they take a while, and sometimes they fly right through." The bill will have to survive a committee hearing before it goes to the House floor for a vote. While Trimmer acknowledged that there are "very critical issues," like the economy, that are more pressing, he's hoping to get the bill through quickly, without taking up much of his colleagues' time. After all, it seems like an indisputably good choice, says Maria Goodvage at Dogster, given that Kansas is already "forever linked" to The Wizard of Oz.

Do other states have official dogs?
Many states have official horses and cats, but only eleven boast of an official canine counterpart. Those that do have generally chosen a dog with strong regional ties, like Massachusetts' Boston terrier and Alaska's Alaskan malamute. But even though Toto's ties to Kansas are fictional, the state doesn't seem too discriminating. "Kansas has a state reptile, for goodness' sakes," says Moore, so why not a dog? 

Sources: ABC News, Dogster, NY Daily NewsThe Wichita Eagle

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