When Alderman Tom Bauer, D-24th Ward, lost his faithful campaign partner Scotty the donkey, he quickly moved to fill the void. Now.....
Alderman Tom Bauer tends to his new donkey, Dan, in the animal's stable behind Bauer’s house in the Dogtown neighborhood. Bauer's neighbors have grown accustomed to his riding his pet down the city streets.
Dan the donkey chomps on a batch of weeds growing through a crack in the otherwise tidy Dogtown alley, seeming to dispute his owner's claim that the four-legged guy is a picky eater.
Tom Bauer, the St. Louis alderman for the 24th Ward, walks or rides his pet donkey more than three miles a day through the neighborhood.
His route includes a trip around Franz Park, situated a block behind Bauer's house on Forest Avenue. Along the way, Bauer and Dan get a double take or two, although most of his neighbors have grown accustomed to Bauer's riding a donkey down the city streets.
Dan replaces Bauer's beloved Scotty, a 10-year-old donkey that died unexpectedly last summer at a Jefferson County farm while Bauer was on vacation.
Scotty had become a fixture in the neighborhood. Bauer would ride the donkey door to door as a campaign gimmick, whether the candidate be Bauer or another Democrat the alderman supported.
Dan, 4, was purchased in Paris, Tenn. He is being groomed to become a campaign tool as well. Bauer is running for re-election in the spring. But before the city race, Bauer is calling on Dan to help get other Democrats elected.
Bauer has already modified his signs to reflect the new campaign partner.
"I had to white out Scotty," Bauer says, showing where Dan's name has been freshly painted.
Bauer, 57, says campaigning is easy with a donkey. All the questions are about the animal, not the issues that Bauer is running on.
Is that a good thing? Bauer nods and smiles. The man who practices law for a living knows what he is doing.
Bauer finds it odd that someone wants to know why a city dweller would have a donkey as a pet and house the creature in a garage in the back yard.
"Somebody normal who does not like a donkey needs to be institutionalized," Bauer says. Before Scotty, Bauer had considered a parrot, but ultimately opted for a donkey as a pet.
"They're extremely affectionate, fun to interact with but so terribly stubborn. That aspect makes it difficult," said Bauer as he coaxed Dan into his hay-lined stall inside the garage.
Dan has not replaced Scotty in Bauer's heart, but he has shown that he is a good-spirited, four-legged companion.
Still, there are some adjustments to be made. For one, the diaper bag that fit Scotty so nicely is a bit askew on Dan. But it is getting the job done and leaving the streets clean.
"You can't be dumping poop when you're an alderman," Bauer said.
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