Legalese — The Official State Dog

Georgia State Capitol. By Andre m (Own work) via Wikipedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Georgia Laws are put together in a series of books called the “Official Code of Georgia Annotated,” or O.C.G.A. for short. Turns out that within the O.C.G.A. there are a number of other designations for official things.  Bear in mind as you read this list, that each one (including the ones I didn’t mention) is the result of a bill proposed in a committee, debated, voted on by the committee, brought to the floor by the rules committee, voted on by the whole house, and then the process repeated in the senate (or vice versa.)

For example, did you know that the official “floral emblem” of the State of Georgia is the Cherokee Rose?  This is not to be confused with the official state wildflower (the azalea,) or the official “tree emblematic” (the live oak.)

“The song “Georgia on My Mind” with lyrics by Mr. Stuart Gorrell and music by Mr. Hoagy Carmichael is designated as the official song of the State of Georgia.”  O.C.G.A. 50-3-60.  That code section then goes on to cite the entirety of the lyrics of the song.  Of course, “Georgia on My Mind” is in 4/4 time, so it can’t be designated as Georgia’s official waltz, which is “Our Georgia.”  I’ve never heard this song, and couldn’t find the music or a performance of it, but you can find the lyrics by clicking here.   The dramatic arts are also represented: we have an official state theater (the Springer Opera House in Columbus) and an official state musical theater (the Peach State Summer Theater in Valdosta.)   I don’t know if you can find the official state historic drama, The Reach of Song, at either the Springer Opera House or the Peach State Summer Theater.  The Reach of Song “presents the pleasures and the sorrows of mountain life.”

Lest dancing should feel left out of the official performing arts, square dancing is the official state folk dance.

Pogo ‘Possum, created by Walt Kelley, is our official state ‘possum.  In case you were concerned that it might be just any old possum.  You have to quit conferring that status on the possum in your yard.

Our official “prepared food” is grits.  I’m not quite sure what our official “unprepared food” is, though I’d guess peaches pulled straight off the tree.  I also wonder if the sweet tea lobby is still smarting from the loss, or if they are proposing a new category, “official state sweetened and brewed beverage.”

My favorite of these, however, is the official Georgia state dog: the adoptable dog.  Because it is the law, O.C.G.A. 50-3-88(a)(1) has to define what an adoptable dog is, in case you couldn’t figure that out on your own.  “”Adoptable dog” means any dog in the custody of any animal shelter, humane society, or public or private animal refuge that is available for adoption by the general public.”  This seems to me to be the noblest of the ‘officials,’ asking for nothing but your love of a helpless animal who will give you love and loyalty in return.  See?  Adopting a dog isn’t just a good deed – it’s what you need to do in order to be a patriotic Georgian.

There is no official state cat.  Apparently no one could get the cats to care enough to get a bill proposed.


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