Time is short, and all of our days are numbered. We know this, and yet it is deeply saddening to hear that Sutter Brown is seriously ill, and that we may soon lose a best friend.
Sutter is Gov. Jerry Brown and Anne Gust Brown’s dog, the gift of Kathleen Brown, and they are his people. But over time, every Californian has, in a sense, become Sutter’s person.
The Corgi is familiar to visitors to Capitol Park, where the governor’s aides and Sutter would take walks. Now, at 13 in people years, Sutter has cancer. We offer our condolences to those who love him best, including Colusa Lucy.
Sutter could give what-for to four-legged intruders to his space on the Capitol lawn. Mostly, he loves belly rubs, and to eat. Once in office, he gained weight. Evidently, the governor’s aides are push-overs.
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A question about Sutter would elicit a smile from Brown. Sutter softened the governor, who can be brusque. Dogs have a way of doing that. In 2011, Sutter’s March Madness pick won; it was, of course, the Connecticut Huskies. Dogs run in packs. The governor gave legislators Sutter playing cards in 2014 to lightly make points about governance. “Always keep a bone buried in the backyard,” one read.
Anyone who has had a Sutter, a Bum, a Poppy, a Jesse, a Zoe, or a Langley, just to name a few of this editorial board’s favorites, understands the pain of deciding when to say good-bye. You want to make sure they get every last walk, biscuit, tennis ball and bone, and you want to scratch behind their ears a little longer. Maybe there’s a kid who is away in college and asks you to wait so she can come home to say so-long to her best childhood friend. So you delay, maybe a little longer than you should.
“Starting out, I thought that life was terribly complex and in some ways it is. But contentment can be pretty simple,” Anna Quindlen wrote in her lovely 2007 book, “Good Dog. Stay.”
“And that’s what I learned from watching Beau over his lifetime: to roll with the punches (if not in carrion), to take things as they come, to measure myself not in terms of the past or the future but of the present, to raise my nose in the air from time to time and, at least metaphorically, holler, ‘I smell bacon.’ ”
Governors understand better than many of us the impact, of lack of it, one person can have. But the impact of one good dog is perhaps a less quantifiable matter. Oh, Sutter. We, too, would like you to stay.