May 23, 2019

State’s ‘first dog’ dies, governor’s aides announce

AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci’s office on Wednesday announced the death of the Baldacci family’s 10-year-old dog, Murphy.

Murphy, who along with 3-year-old running mate Sam was a springer spaniel, had become a high-profile presence on the grounds of the Blaine House and more than an occasional visitor to the State House.

Gubernatorial aides also recounted Murphy being a familiar presence at the administration’s weekly Wednesday Cabinet meetings who sometimes received her own mail.

A brief statement said Murphy, who originally belonged to the governor’s late mother, had cancer.

“Murphy lived a good life. She was well-loved and loved everyone. She was the unofficial first dog,” Baldacci said in the statement.

The statement suggested that people wishing to commemorate the dog could donate to local animal humane societies.

Murphy was one of the highest-profile animals at the Blaine House in recent years.

The best-known dog to ever live at the governor’s mansion was Gov. Percival Baxter’s beloved Irish setter, Garry. When Garry died in 1923, Baxter ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the State House in the dog’s honor, drawing protests from veterans groups.

Gov. Ralph Owen Brewster, governor from 1925-29, had a dog that could entertain guests by snapping a dog biscuit from its nose to its mouth, according to “The Blaine House,” a book by H. Draper Hunt.

In the 1930s, Gov. Louis Brann hung a portrait of his dog Bing at the Blaine House, the book says. And in the 1940s, Gov. Horace Hildreth had two dogs and a pony that was kept in a barn behind the residence.

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