by Blake Herzog
Our communities’ love affair with dogs is legendary and is perhaps at its most public at the iconic Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza in downtown Prescott. Here the classic architecture of the courthouse sets amid a lush green lawn and trees — a canine paradise.
The connection goes way back and was strong long before the mid-20th century when Whiskey Row had a soft spot for “Mike,” a black-and-white community mutt who made himself at home at all the bars and restaurants along Montezuma Street on the west end of the square.
He claimed the area as his own, chasing other dogs away so he could have the attention and leftovers of patrons and staff to himself. When the unlicensed dog was declared an “outlaw” by the local judge it was the local police department who raised the money to buy tags that kept him legal.
After Mike died in 1960, he was quickly memorialized with a bronze plaque in the northwest corner of the square as “a silent, loyal, tolerant friend. Take heed if you will, a moral lies herein.”
In the six decades since then, the square has become a near-constant pet parade of dogs sniffing, tracking, running, rolling around and making fast friends everyone, canine and human alike. We’re sure some intrepid cats have found their way there over the years, too, but don’t seem to have left as big a pawprint aside from Stub, who was documented in an 1897 courthouse inventory.
The variety of people and dogs to be found there is legendary, with small and fluffy often fearlessly approaching the big and brawny from the taut end of their leashes. Almost everyone there is a pussycat, which gives the plaza a festive air even when it’s not hosting one of its many special events,
So whenever you’re downtown with a dog, or just need a “doggie fix,” stop by Courthouse Plaza at Montezuma and Gurley streets to become a part of the parade!
Photo by Blushing Cactus Photography