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Monday, June 26, 2006 - Page updated at 12:09 PM

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Gregoire family acquires new "first dog"

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire's family has a new "fluffball" dog named Trooper to take over mansion guard duties from Franz, the popular "first dog" who was killed by a car in February.

The new dog, a honey-colored purebred Japanese Shiba, made his debut at the governor's weekly news conference today. Gregoire and her husband, Mike, showed off the 4-pound, 8-week-old puppy, who shivered in the glare of television lights.

The Gregoires said they hadn't planned to get a new dog so soon after the death of their family pet Franz, but that a friend spotted a litter at the Tai Chung kennel in Oakville.

"I said 'We're not really interested in a puppy,' but Mike said 'Let's go look,"' the governor said. "Well, have you ever seen an ugly puppy? We fell in love with the little guy."

The Gregoires, who paid for the pet themselves despite numerous offers of a new dog, took Trooper home Sunday night.

"He's got a voice — we discovered that last night" with barking, the governor said.

House-broken? "Oh, yeah, right."

Gregoire said Trooper's breed is known as "independent, bold, bright, very social, loves little kids — and is an escape artist."

The name, she said, was to honor the state patrol, which was the first organization to volunteer to find a new "first dog."

"His job is to guard the mansion," she said with a laugh.

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Gregoire called him "the newest member of our family" and said their daughters have been e-mailed numerous pictures. Courtney is practicing law in Washington, D.C., and Michelle returns from a college semester abroad in New Zealand on July 4.

"We were afraid she'd stay in New Zealand, so we found a ticket to bring her home," the governor said.

She said the pup is known to "find the weakest link at mealtime" to get scraps from the table — and turned and pointed at her husband. He pleaded guilty.

Mike Gregoire said the dog likely will have the same high profile Franz had.

"He has big paws to fill," he said.

Franz, a Pomeranian who was a Valentine's Day gift 10 years ago from the governor and her husband to their daughters, darted in front of a car at a dog-sitter's house and was struck. The pet was rushed to the vet, but could not be saved.

The Gregoires had been in Michigan to watch the Seattle Seahawks play in the Super Bowl.

The champagne-colored dog, often carted around the capitol campus by the governor in the crook of her arm, was usually decked out in a colorful bandanna for every season.

He "signed" legislation with his paw print last year for the new "We Love Our Pets" specialty license plates. He was popular with school children and often greeted mansion tours. He had his own Web page and a specialty bottling of merlot called First Dog.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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