Oklahoma has a state game bird (the turkey) and even a state insect (the honeybee) and even a state furbearer (the raccoon). But despite the state being populated with dog enthusiasts, we are not among the 12 states that have declared an official state dog. Oklahoma, are we ready for a state dog?
Who has one and how does Oklahoma get one?
Maryland was the first state to name a dog breed as a state symbol, naming the Chesapeake Bay Retriever in 1964. Pennsylvania followed the year after, naming the Great Dane as its official breed. Other official state dogs also are indigenous to their state, including the Boston Terrier in Massachusetts and the Alaskan Malamute in Alaska. Pennsylvania picked the Great Dane not because of its origin, but because its role in its history. The Great Dane was introduced by early settlers in Pennsylvania who used the breed as hunting and working dogs.
Champions of designating state dogs often point to the role dogs play in our society, their psychological benefits and to educating people about responsible pet ownership.
Not to mention that people simply love dogs. Two of the more recent successful campaigns to name a state dog have been started by schoolchildren. In 2007, Alaskan kindergarten student Paige Hill’s idea created the campaign for the Alaskan Malamute which would convince Rep. Berta Gardner to support the bill in 2009, with it becoming law in 2010. Elementary school students from Bedford, New Hampshire, won their campaign for the Chinook in 2009.
There have been a variety of campaigns in other states to select a state dog; some are still under way and some have failed. Most recently Maine and Oregon proposed state dogs. Check out a list of all state dogs, here.
What does it take to get an Oklahoma State Dog?
Symbols are often adopted after a concerted effort by citizens to have a significant item recognized for its importance to the state.
In Oklahoma, a state symbol is typically done via executive order or legislative resolution, said Liz McNeill, director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
“If you followed the path of legislative resolution you would need a legislator to carry the bill,” McNeill explained.
Citizens, organizations or school children often research a particular symbol and approach a law maker requesting to bring forward a bill. They track the bill through the Legislative process, often providing further information about their request to the Legislature.
If approved by the Legislature, the bill is enacted and there is a new state symbol.
To learn more about Oklahoma’s current state symbols and state animals, click here.
Most popular dogs in Oklahoma
So with a process laid out, what dogs would be good candidates for Oklahoma’s state dog?
According to BarkPost the English Bulldog is the most popular dog in the state, and Rover.com lists Boxers as Oklahoma’s top dog. The good, old Labrador Retriever won out in 38 states, and was once again listed as America’s favorite dog by the American Kennel Club in 2016.
It’s not easy to choose one dog over another. As any pet owner would tell you their favorite breed is THE best breed. Recalling the Oklahoma state vegetable is a watermelon controversy, perhaps we should follow Colorado’s example which declared shelter or rescue as the official Colorado state pet. Declaring Oklahoma service dogs such as K-9 officers or search and rescue dogs that have played such an important role in our states recent history sounds like a perfectly uncontroversial solution.