SACRAMENTO, CALIF. -- Call me Sutter. Sutter Brown. California's first dog, the shortest, cuddliest member of Gov. Jerry Brown's and Anne Brown's nuclear family.
You may rub my belly.
Yes, I am a good Corgi, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi to be exact.
Yes, I am handsome.
Yes, I would like another treat.
I don't get all this talk about rancor in Sacramento. Wags say that Dad can be too cerebral, too aloof and he doesn't suffer fools gladly. But everyone loves me.
I can walk into any office -- of any lawmaker, Democrat or Republican -- and people smile. They run for their camera phones to take my picture. They laugh when I stick my snout into their wastebaskets. Then they repeat the Team Brown talking point about my sniffing out waste, fraud and abuse.
You've got to love this town.
In politics, they say, the power is in knowing where the bodies are buried. But the key to happiness -- and balancing budgets in the face of a daunting deficit -- is in knowing where to find life's crumbs.
Yet, life here isn't all squeak toys and treats. The Politician Whisperers do work me like a dog. Meet and greets. Guard duty. Photo ops. Someone keeps sneaking me one-pagers about great first dogs. Checkers. Buddy. Fala.
If you ask me, Bo Obama has yet to grow into the position. Think Diana, Princess of Wales, Bo. You want to be the people's pooch.
Here's a trick that works for this old dog. Lie on your back for 20 minutes a day. Show the joy.
Then there's Barney Bush, who earned his kibble when he bit a member of the White House press corps. But that's a move only a lame-duck dog can get away with.
Tuesday, the keepers of my retractable leash set me up for an interview with this Saunders lady from the San Francisco Chronicle. She's a Republican. In a show of bipartisanship, they wanted to throw her a bone -- but not too tasty a bone. Before she arrives, the handlers all stand around and tell me I have to stay on message.
Guys, I try to tell them, my body is so close to the ground that I don't need pointers on how to keep my paws planted on terra firma. But do handlers listen?
She takes me to the office of Republican Senate leader Bob Dutton, where GOP senators are caucusing over lunch. Corgis are, after all, herding dogs. Can I nip a few heels to corral a Republican vote or two to get Dad's tax-cut bill on a special election June ballot?
No. That's what concessions are for. But I can stand outside the door and bark.
Dutton knows how to come when he's called. The door opens. But then he picks me up. Me, the first dog, as if I'm a she-cat. He pats me on the head and dubs me "the taxpayers' watchdog" -- without even letting me lick the lunchmeats.
Saunders takes me out to the Capitol grounds for her big exclusive -- my first sit-down interview -- which her pack-mate Carla Marinucci videotapes for my public.
Saunders begins: Do I call Jerry Brown "Dad" or "Master"?
"Or Zen master?" She thinks she's really funny.
When she starts asking me about redevelopment, I realize I have more important business to attend to. Saunders comes prepared with a plastic sleeve from her newspaper. You see, I know the real reason why a conservative columnist got the first interview with California's first dog: The guys in the press office wanted to give new meaning to the term "scoop."