A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Canine ‘Lucy Lou’ Kayser, former Rabbit Hash mayor and write-in presidential candidate has died

By Mark Hansel
KyForward managing editor

Former Rabbit Hash mayor and write-in presidential candidate Lucy Lou has died.

Mayor Lucy Lou (photos courtesy of Bobbi Layne Kayser)

The 12-year-old border collie died Monday from kidney failure attributed to her age, according to the Rabbit Hash Historical Society.

Lucy Lou lived her whole life in Rabbit Hash and was a familiar face in the community, with her thick, red and white coat and engaging personality, even before being elected mayor in 2008.

She was not the first canine to be elected Mayor of Rabbit Hash. She was preceded by Goofy, and Junior, her “mentor,” who passed away when Lucy Lou was just a year old.

There were no provisions for interim mayor in the town by-laws, so an election was announced in August at the annual Old Timers Day festival. There are also no age restrictions for the office, perhaps because nobody could decide if it should be measured in human, or dog years.

Lucy Lou ran on the slogan, “The Bitch You Can Count On,” and according to the Rabbit Hash Historical Society, her campaign contributed more than $8,000 of the nearly $22,000 raised by the election.

As an unincorporated community in Boone County, Rabbit Hash elections weren’t bound by the rules of municipal or statewide contests.

According to the Historical Society, some of the rules include, “Anyone of any age can vote, you can vote as many times as you like, and we encourage drinking at the polls.”

A crowded field that included 10 other dogs, a cat, an opossum and a jackass contested the election. It would seem a jackass might have an advantage in a race for political office, but Lucy Lou bested them all.

Mayor Lucy Lou Kayser was a visible presence when the Rabbit Hash General Store was almost completely destroyed by fire in 2016. A little more than a year later the store reopened, thanks to donations and the efforts of residents and volunteers.

The tiny hamlet, on the banks of the Ohio River has a colorful history and the Rabbit Hash General Store has been a popular gathering spot for those in the surrounding communities and visitors from across the country for generations. The General Store and the Rabbit Hash Historic District are both on the National Register of Historic Places.

When the General Store was almost completely destroyed by fire in 2016, Rabbit Hash was devastated. Lucy Lou was a visible presence in the time of crisis in her community, but seemed as forlorn as the other Rabbit Hash residents as she viewed the aftermath of the blaze.

Donations poured in from around the country, however, and with a lot of hard work from residents and friends, the 185-year-old landmark reopened, a little more than a year later. It appeared none the worse for wear.

With such a storied history, Lucy Lou did not put Rabbit Hash on the map, but as the first mayor to hold office in the age of social media, she certainly help raise its profile.

She was the subject of stories and “interviews” from news outlets as far away as the UK and even shared a “Talking Points” walk with Bill Geist of “CBS Sunday Morning,” on a segment about the 2008 election.

In 2016, it was announced that Lucy Lou would step down as mayor to launch a write-in campaign for president. The camping was unsuccessful and there is probably another jackass joke that could be inserted here, but we’ll leave that to the pundits.

There is even a Ballotpedia page that recognizes the write-in presidential candidacy of Lucy Lou Kayser.

Bobbi Layne Kayser was Lucy Lou’s “momma” and she posted this memory, used with permission, to social media Monday.

“Before she went to sleep I told her to go find Gus and he would show her the ropes. I told her that Suki Sue, Godsend and Haystack (other dogs Bobbi Layne has owned) were all there to play with her, and if she felt the need to discuss the sad state of affairs down here to go find Donald E. Clare because I’m sure he wouldn’t mind talking about Rabbit Hash. I told her that Daddy, Ivan, Wolf and I were sure going to miss her and not to forget us because we’ll see her again one of these days. I told her she wasn’t going to suffer any more. I also told her I promised to get that damn trespassing squirrel for her one day.”

Editor’s note: Clare, who died in October, was also a legendary figure in Rabbit Hash. He is the vocalist in the video tribute to Lucy Lou, provided by Xander Stone, that is linked here.  It has already been viewed almost 3,000 times.

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