Capitol Alert

Sutter Brown, first dog of California, dead at 13

Sutter Brown, the gubernatorial pooch who softened Gov. Jerry Brown’s image and brightened the California Capitol with his love for belly rubs and treats, has died.

“Sutter passed away peacefully this afternoon with the Governor and First Lady at his side and was laid to rest at the family ranch in Colusa County, where he loved to roam, sniff and play,” Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in a statement Friday afternoon.

The 13-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi underwent emergency surgery in October, but a particularly aggressive form of cancer could not be entirely removed. News of his illness dismayed fans around California, who filled social media with expressions of support.

Sutter returned home, and to the Governor’s Office. He was outside the Governor’s Mansion to greet trick-or-treaters on Halloween, and accompanied the governor to vote on Election Day.

But his health had deteriorated rapidly in recent days, and Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, “made the decision that it was time to say goodbye,” Westrup said.

Gov. Brown adopted Sutter from his sister after winning the 2010 governor’s race. The dog charmed members of the media, becoming a recurring character in Sacramento Bee editorial cartoons, and cracked a rare window into the personal life of the governor and his wife.

Images of the dog lounging in the office or at home went out to the thousands who followed Sutter on Twitter. In the days after Sutter fell ill, Gust Brown shared some aching images of the stricken animal, including a picture of Brown tenderly cradling the canine.

Sutter also inhabited his owners’ political sphere. He traveled around the state to help Brown promote a tax hike on top earners via Proposition 30. After being unleashed to pass new taxes Sutter became a watchdog of fiscal discipline, appearing on cards that were handed out during Brown’s 2014 State of the State speech and bore phrases like “Let’s keep new spending on a short leash.” The governor invoked Sutter’s desire to defile an unappealing ballot initiative.

Helping to put a cuddly face on public programs, the @SutterBrown Twitter account would frequently pair adorable images with reminders about policies such as a state Earned Income Tax Credit or water conservation rebates.

He also proved that, if nothing else, a cute pet can forge bipartisan consensus. Amid ferociously partisan efforts to manage a budget crisis, former Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton spoke fondly of having “developed a relationship” with Sutter.

Sutter is survived by Colusa Lucy Brown, who joined the Browns as a puppy in 2015. The Governor’s Office said she would assume Sutter’s duties as first dog.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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