Finally, some common sense from a politician!

The Gerald Law for President Committee

By Candace Stuart / The Detroit News

It was a golden opportunity to get kids involved in the political process and pay tribute to a friend.

So, inspired and maybe a bit peeved by an act that made the painted turtle Michigan's official state reptile, Rep. Gerald Law, R-Plymouth, recently submitted a bill naming the golden retriever the official state dog of Michigan.

"My thought was, 'What's a painted turtle? Dogs have much more value than that,'" he said. "They're used in law enforcement, as seeing eye dogs and as companions."

The idea actually was hatched by his younger constituents in Plymouth, Livonia and Northville. Several children penned him letters after reading about a fifth-grade class in Niles, Mich., that pushed for the reptile legislation. The Metro Detroit students, like Law, argued man's best friend was more deserving of a state honor.

Law entered the one-sentence proposal this fall after he and other representatives agreed it offered a chance to teach kids about government.

Next spring he hopes to visit schools in his district and consult with students, explain the law-making process and show how they can make a difference. He's even willing to listen to other proposals about the most appropriate breed.

"Although I'm very partial to golden retrievers," he said. He's owned golden retrievers but is without one at the moment; his pet passed away this summer.

Marcia Schlehr, past vice-president of the Golden Retriever Club of America and a dog breeder in Clinton, Mich., said the proposal was an honor and a good match for Michigan, given the breed's reputation as outdoor-loving sporting and family dogs.

Just as long as the measure doesn't prompt people to get a retriever without understanding what it entails. "Not everyone needs a large, hairy, shedding, mud-loving dog," she said. "They're wonderful dogs, but not for everyone."

Copyright 1996, The Detroit News

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