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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 7, 2010

Legendary mayor had a legendary dog

 •  Adoptables

By Leslie Kawamoto

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Gino once sat in Mayor Fasi's chair to pen a letter to the editor, which the springer spaniel signed with a pawprint.

DEC. 10, 1987 | Advertiser library photo

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The famous pair, Mayor Frank Fasi and Gino, frequently could be seen walking around Honolulu.

APRIL 3, 1985 | Advertiser library photo

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Who was the most famous dog in Honolulu in the 1980s?

It was Mayor Fasi's dog, Gino, a black-and-white springer spaniel.

Gino, named after the actor and dancer Gene Kelly, was born on the day Hurricane Iwa struck in late November 1982. He had to be hand-reared because his mother passed away after giving birth, perhaps the reason he was so attached to his owners. He became the mayor's constant companion.

Unleashed, he had the run of City Hall and the mayor's office. He would stroll across the lawns around City Hall. He sat in closed-door meetings, mostly snoozing, with famous business and political leaders, and he rode shotgun in Fasi's van to and from work.

Advertiser reporter David Waite, who covered City Hall back then, said the mayor would have breakfast weekly with Gino at Heidi's Downtown. "Gino would have his own chair. The mayor would order two orders of toast, one for Gino."

Advertiser reporter Robbie Dingeman recalled, "I remember Gino mostly being friendly and present during Fasi's news conferences." On the other hand, Keoki Kerr, from KITV, remembers Gino being not so cordial in his senior years. "Gino was a cute dog, but as he got older and a bit more ornery, he occasionally snapped at reporters and cameramen as we waited outside Fasi's office for news conferences," said Kerr.

Gino was so smart, he even wrote a letter to the editor of The Honolulu Advertiser on Dec. 7, 1987, scolding then Lt. Gov. Ben Cayetano for comments he made that "only Filipino city employees are allowed to walk the mayor's dog." In his letter, Gino stated that he usually walked with the mayor, and when the mayor couldn't do it, others volunteered. It wasn't an assigned chore. He even went so far to say that if he ran into Cayetano, he would be inclined to bite him. The letter ended with Gino's pawprint on the bottom.

Several days later, Advertiser reporter Will Hoover interviewed Gino about his letter. Through his translator, the mayor, Gino sat regally in the mayor's chair and answered questions. When asked if he really wrote the letter, he replied with a howl three times. His translator said that meant yes. Even when prodded with other probing questions, Gino stood by what he wrote.

"This dog would make a good mayor himself. He was pretty wise. You could tell his translator (the mayor) was having a good time with this. Gino apparently has sat in that chair before," chuckled Hoover.

Animal lover Leslie Kawamoto has been with The Advertiser for 20 years, or 140 in dog years. Check out her blog at www.HonoluluAdvertiser.com/Blogs.