By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton’s dog died this week. And because he is Governor and because he put it on his Facebook page it was news. The Star Tribune broke the news. I glanced at the online comments beneath the story and kept reading. I was amazed that the comments were all supportive.
Why would I be amazed? Unless you are a reader of online comments posted at the end of news stories, you won’t get it. Online comments on news stories tend to be the rantings of the lowest common denominator in all of us. Because the comments don’t have a name attached people post anything. Comments are often vulgar, racist, sexist, cruel or all of the above.
But the comments about Dayton and his dogs were different. Many of the comments cited differences politically with the Governor, but admiration for his love for his pets. The civil nature of the comments, the outpouring of sympathy, the concern for the Governor’s grieving, seemed universal.
Which made me think. Would the Capitol be a more civil place if everyone brought their pets with them? Would every work place, every school be just a little bit kinder? Or should those of us who own pets wear buttons with their pictures on it?
When you consider that in the online world where anonymity often brings out the worst in us, animals reach a place that ordinary reason and decency can’t. In the real world where Minnesota Nice obviously masks some pretty angry feelings, maybe a reminder that most of us are animal owners, or at least lovers, might lead us all to a nicer and gentler place.