"This one's hilarious," the mayor said, taking a break last week to talk about her four-legged aide. At staff meetings, it's lap roulette. The dog circles the table and suddenly jumps into someone's lap. The first person she picked was the chief of police.
At another meeting she was in the mayor's lap. "She was sitting there and she kept nodding off," Castor said, laughing. "Yeah, these meetings are kind of boring."
Castor got Alcaldesa - the Spanish term for a female mayor - from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, where she has acquired all her rescue dogs. She already has three others. She called the humane society staff and asked them to look for a friendly dog for the office.
"It had to be friendly. It wouldn't do to come to the mayor's office and get bitten," she said.
One day they called and said they had the perfect dog. Castor wanted to bring Desa, as they call her, in for a "test drive," she said, but her communications director, Ashley Bauman, wanted to make it a social media splash, so she brought in photographers to record the event.
"So much for a test drive," Castor said, dryly. "You can never take her back now." Fortunately, she was indeed the perfect dog. "She just loves everybody."
Desa goes home with the mayor every night and arrives with her every morning. She spends her day greeting visitors, circulating through the office and sleeping on the end of the waiting room couch. The mayor takes her to some appearances around town. She's scheduled to bring Desa to a Blessing of the Animals event on Oct. 4, World Animal Day, at the Franciscan Center, 3010 Perry Ave., Tampa.
When Desa can't go along, she cries a few moments after the mayor leaves, but soon settles on the couch for a nap.
Sometimes the mayor takes her on her morning or afternoon walk, but she has plenty of eager volunteers.
"Everybody comes to take her for walks," Castor said. "And they come to visit. And once she finds out who's got the treats - who the suckers are - she'll be making her own rounds."
Bauman said Desa has been a social media hit since her arrival at City Hall last month.
"It blew up. Now everywhere we go, everybody's like, 'Where's the dog?' "she said.
Desa's favorite moments, no doubt, are when she's with the mayor, and it appears the feeling is mutual.
"I think the big thing is she just makes everybody smile," Castor said.
"No matter what's going on in your day, you get a little lick in the face and a tail wag. Somebody's happy to see you, no matter what."
Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.
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