In the annals of Texas political candidates, surely all of them have been human. Until now.
A 5-year-old rescue mutt from Austin is running as a write-in candidate for governor of Texas.
His name is Woodrow, as in Wilson.
His owner, Lorri Michel, tells PEOPLEPets.com that Woodrow is a political independent, so he couldn’t run in the Democratic or Republican primaries that happened in March. But, the Nov. 2 general election is open to all, and Michel wants Woodrow’s name to be written-in on ballots.
It all started when 43-year-old Michel, an Austin attorney, watched her pooch frolicking off-leash one day in nearby Pease Park last summer. She watched in amusement as Woodrow would stride purposefully from one park visitor to another.
“He would go up to every dog, child and adult, and it was as if he was saying, ‘Hi, how are you? Don’t you look so nice today?’” Michel says. “And then he would just move on.”
A friend, who was also watching, remarked at the time, “Oh, my God, Woodrow is mayor.”
And so a campaign was born. It was partly Michel’s way of expressing frustration over Texas politics, but knowing that Woodrow’s votes would be statistically insignificant, Michel is using the Woodrow bandwagon to publicize the many thousands of sick or unwanted dogs that are being euthanized in Texas.
The Woodrow groundswell caught the eye of the Austin American-Statesman, the local newspaper, and the publicity is also helping to raise money for Austin Pets Alive, which takes animals to be euthanized and places them up for adoption. Woodrow has raised – through the sale of T-shirts alone – $2,000 so far.
All the campaigning is a surprise given that Woodrow started out as a timid little puppy. When Michel adopted him in 2006, he was found curled up in a fearful ball, even though he wasn’t sick. She had to carry him to her car.
When she took him for walks, Woodrow would dash for bushes and hide. Time and the company of Ms. Michel’s other pets – the dogs, Remy and Francis, as well as the cats, Orangy, Purlie Stars, and Cornelius – have helped, Michel says.
Woodrow, about 70 lbs. and the size of a suitcase, may be an unconventional candidate, but in some ways, he is qualified to be one. According to Article 4, section 4 of the Texas Constitution, a candidate must have been a state resident for at least five years. Check. And he must be at least 35. Double check. (In dog years, anyway.)
Still, voters expect their governor to be able to write as well as speak, if not belong to the same species as that of his constituents.
Whatever the case, Texans can see Woodrow at his first campaign stop Saturday, May 1, at the Canine Hilton in Austin. As his slogan goes, How ruff could it be?
Meet more political animals on PEOPLEPets.com:
Inauguration Special! Patriotic Pets