By Sheila Appleby Williams
For over a decade, Australian Cattle dog, Blue, has been the town mascot of Elephant Butte, New Mexico — dispensing doggie love and affection to the mini retirement community since being abandoned as a puppy and “adopted” by local business owners.
The blue-eyed Aussie senior captured the hearts and headlines of the media last summer when a local ordinance prohibiting off leash canines was put into effect following a much publicized pit bull mauling fatality in the nearby town of Truth or Consequences — which threatened the freedom and safety of the 12-year-old gregarious canine who formerly greeted customers and sauntered along the main street.
Adoption attempts proved disastrous, which failed to keep the wandering Blue at home—he dug his way out of yards or chewed through chain link fences and would inevitably appear at the Elephant Butte General store.
Janice Connor, owner of the Elephant Butte General Store (and now legal guardian) was asked to spearhead the town hall meeting that attracted the largest resident turn out in the city’s history (including on site coverage by a NY Times reporter).
The judge decided in Blue’s favor but Elephant Butte Mayor, Eunice Kent, over turned the decision. The battle to save Blue went to court and Albuquerque attorney, Hilary Noskin (also an Elephant Butte property owner) offered her services pro bono.
A fever pitch of supporters demanded “Save Blue” t-shirts and a steady stream of commuters stopped at the gas station/general store to fill up their tanks and hearts and take photos of the reticent furry celebrity.
Fast forward to the holiday season in Elephant Butte and pet Santa, George Evanson, volunteered to visit the canine who (the case was decided in the fido’s favor with provisions that included an electric fence and collar-both donated) is happily stationed in front of the General Store but restricted to the premises and unable to travel as he has a vehicle phobia.
On hand to share in the special spotlight was Phoebe Rose, former LA celebrity pug and now a resident of neighboring Truth or Consequences.
Ms. Connor spoke about the love that Blue continues to give and inspire. Local and on-line Friends of Blue send cash donations for his upkeep. Ms. Connor is happy to give back to the community that has given so much and channels the funds into pet charities and for needy animals. Blue’s situation has inspired her to lobby successfully to improve local animal service laws.
Photo Credit: Sheila Appleby Williams