Are Dogs Born Politicians?

They’re loyal, smart and usually get along well with others.
By Kathleen St. John, March 2011, Updated February 2015

Dogs don’t often have much use for politics—it doesn’t make for polite conversation—but that hasn’t stopped them from taking office. Last year, the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks Civic Association in Annandale, Va., elected Beatha Lee its new president—unaware she was a dog. Nothing in the association’s bylaws prevented a dog from the presidency, and Beatha still runs meetings from under her owner’s dinner table. Though some members of the civic association were angry about Beatha’s takeover, other communities happily appoint dogs as their leaders. 

Bosco Ramos, Sunol, Calif.: Bosco, a handsome Rottweiler-Labrador Retriever mix, was elected honorary mayor of Sunol in 1981. He got on the ballot as a joke (not registered with any party), and wound up beating two human opponents for the mayorship. As part of his duties, Bosco appeared at social events in a stately tuxedo and helped lead the town’s annual Halloween parade. Most of Bosco’s days, however, were spent hanging outside the local bar, fostering neighborhood spirit and accepting treats.
Bosco really put the Northern California town on the map, however, when a Chinese newspaper used him as an example of the failure of democracy. In defiance, Bosco joined a pro-democracy protest in San Francisco. In 2008, 14 years after his death, Sunol placed a bronze statue of Bosco under the town clock, complete with his classic neckerchief.
Lucy Lou, Rabbit Hash, Ky.: Miss Lucy Lou is a pioneer of sorts in this tiny, unincorporated country town. She’s not the first dog mayor—she’s the third—but she is the first bitch elected to the position. The Border Collie took over the mayor’s office in 2008 by defeating 15 other candidates, including a cat, an opossum and a human. (The closest the human got was 15th place.) Following in the pawprints of her predecessors, Junior and Goofy, Lucy now spends her days greeting visitors to Rabbit Hash and serving as a spokesdog for the local animal shelter. She’s even reached out to the feline community, publicly supporting the acceptance of both dogs and cats in the town’s general store.


Devlin, Abilene, Texas: Devlin, a gloriously furry Irish Wolfhound, served as “dog mayor” of Abilene in the early and mid-2000s. During his terms in office, Devlin traveled the country as an ambassador for pets—Abilene’s dog election is a fundraiser for Abilene animal organization Rescue the Animals. By 2005, Devlin had already visited 36 states on his journey of goodwill, teaching kids about dog safety and promoting shelter adoption.


Kathleen St. John is a freelance writer for target The Denver Post and The Onion's A.V. Club, and a lifelong dog lover. She lives in Denver, Colo., with her husband, John, and her dog, Daisy, who's a mix of just about everything.