"Working dog" named official state canine
ALBANY, N.Y. - The "working dog" will soon become the official state canine.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Wednesday that designates service dogs -- canines that are trained to assist the blind or otherwise disabled -- as New York's official dog, the latest in a long line of state symbols that range from the state muffin (apple) to the state reptile (snapping turtle).
But in his approval message, Cuomo said the bill was unintentionally narrow: It was meant to include all dogs that are trained to assist people, including veterans and first responders.
So he and lawmakers have agreed to pass an amendment next year expanding the law to designate the "working dog" as the official New York dog, Cuomo said.
"Every day, working dogs protect, comfort, and give their friendship and affection to New Yorkers in need of assistance," Cuomo wrote in the message. "These devoted companions embody the spirit of New York -- hard working, loyal, and eager to serve."
New York's laws officially designate more than a dozen state symbols, which are often proposed by elementary-school classrooms and picked up by their local lawmakers as part of a civics lessons.
At times, the debates have become unexpectedly heated: In 2014, the state Senate spent 44 minutes arguing over whether yogurt should be the official state snack.
The epic yogurt debate was skewered by the hosts of multiple late-night talk shows, including Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show," who riffed on what the state's official bird should be: "The kind you flip."
New York does have a state bird, of course: the eastern bluebird.