When the Minnesota governor’s race was called on election night in 2018, Tim Walz was gathered with his family at a St. Paul hotel. The room erupted in celebration when it became clear that the DFL congressman would become the state’s 41st governor.
Gus Walz, Walz’s school-age son, was the first to remind him of a campaign promise.
“I get a dog!” he exclaimed.
Walz and his wife, Gwen Walz, had promised back in March 2017 that the family could adopt a dog if Dad won his statewide bid. Gus did not forget.
Scout, a three-month-old black lab mix, made his public debut at a news conference at the governor’s residence on Thursday. The dog, adopted late last week from Midwest Animal Rescue & Services, is the first for the family.
“We’re pretty excited,” the governor said as Scout sniffed around on the front lawn.
With Scout’s arrival, the Walz family joins a long tradition of American politicians putting a spotlight on their pets. Dogs, cats and even ducks have occupied the White House in years past, sometimes famously playing a role in pivotal moments in national politics. Sutter Brown, a Welsh corgi belonging to former California Gov. Jerry Brown, was for years a fixture in the Golden State Capitol, attracting Twitter followers and fans on both sides of the aisle.
Scout is not the first puppy to inhabit the state residence. Former Gov. Mark Dayton adopted a German shepherd in 2011 following the death of another furry member of his family. Dayton named that dog Wanamingo, after the southern Minnesota city.
The Walz family weighed several name options after bringing Scout home last week, including one inspired by the street of their current home.
“We should say Scout was a close second to the name Summit,” First Lady Gwen Walz said. “But Gus chose it.”
The governor’s residence, a stately, seven-bedroom home on an acre of land in St. Paul, is a far cry from Scout’s early environs. He arrived at a shelter after he was found abandoned, in a box, in Oklahoma. Walz and his wife said they hoped publicizing his adoption would inspire others to seek a rescue pet of their own.
The black lab mix appears to be having no trouble adjusting to life in the political limelight. He’s been a good dog, his owners say, besides the occasional stolen shoe or ripped-up magazine. He showed off a trick for a treat (“sit”), before sauntering off to sniff at some flowers surrounding a flagpole. Later, he explored the perimeter of the yard, licked a reporter on the face and met some neighbors walking down the sidewalk.
Gus, too, has stepped up to the task, getting up early to let Scout out and picking up poop on the lawn.
“Everybody’s thrilled. Well, I shouldn’t say everybody,” the governor said. “Gus’ sister Hope said it took two days to replace her — she went to university and we replaced her with a puppy.”
Afton, the family cat, he added, has “not been happy.”