Entries pouring in for Langley’s first Top Dog contest

Maya Lucker, 10, of Clinton, poses with her family poodle Diego, an entry in the Top Dog competition.  - Roy Jacobson / The Record
Maya Lucker, 10, of Clinton, poses with her family poodle Diego, an entry in the Top Dog competition.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

LANGLEY — Who’s the top dog (four-legged category) on South Whidbey?

“My little buddy is just about the coolest dog in town,” said Damien Cortez, food bank coordinator at Good Cheer.

“Our beloved Alexandra should be the pick, in memory of this amazing girl,” said Patty and Rob Toombs of Clinton.

“Andy is our pride and joy,” said Rick Spang and Kathy Pewitt of Langley. “He’s named after CBS’s Andy Rooney because of his large overhanging eyebrows. He is black and white with big brown eyes with which he looks right into your soul.”

“True is our especially handsome golden retriever,” said Sharen Heath of Langley. “If he were a real guy I’d be all over him. True has sex appeal, likely due to his athleticism.”

“Diego survived having his head stepped on by a horse,” said Helma Lucker of Clinton. “He’s bounced back from a lot.”


Looks like it’s going to be a difficult decision for Lynn Willeford, owner of The Clyde Theatre in Langley with her husband, Blake. She organized the first (and perhaps annual) Top Dog competition, along with the owners of Myken’s Pet Boutique across the street.

Entries are pouring in. Willeford said there are at least 70 so far.

“I’m glad I’m not the one to choose,” said Karen Shetler of Myken’s, “because I’d pick all of them.”

Willeford said she got the idea after noticing the number of new movies featuring dogs or with the word dog in the title: “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” “Bolt,” “Marley & Me,” “Hotel for Dogs,” “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Participants were asked to drop off flattering photos of their dogs by Wednesday, Feb. 25, to The Clyde or Myken’s on First Street in downtown Langley.

The Top Dog prize will be awarded prior to the 5 p.m. showing of “Hotel for Dogs” on Saturday, Feb. 28.

The winner will receive a $25 gift certificate for toys and treats from Myken’s, five passes to The Clyde and a signed copy of Jeanie Schick-Jacobowitz’s comic little gift book, “You’re My Friend ... Be Paws.”

“We’ve got dogs from dozens of breeds, purebreds and rescue dogs, all deeply loved,” Willeford said “It’s going to be awfully hard to pick a winner.”

Shetler has more than 16 photo entries that she’s collected and posted on the wall at Myken’s.

“They all come in with stories about their dogs, which is fun,” said Shetler, who has three dogs of her own. “Mine are pretty cute, too.”

Ah yes, stories.

Frankie Petitclerc, of Freeland, manager of the Hub after-school youth program in the basement of Langley United Methodist Church, was the first to enter.

“She seemed to think there was no reason anyone else should bother to enter once I’d seen Bailey,” Willeford said.

Bailey is an 8-year-old yellow Lab, who Petitclerc says is just like the four-legged star of “Marley & Me.”

“He eats my bills, he eats my money,” she said. “He once ran through a screen door, just like Marley. He’s cute, but he’s a little devil.”

Petitclerc also has another Lab, and a Boston terrier, “so if I win, I can always use more dog supplies and treats.”

Cortez said his dog Spike, a mixture of miniature pug, shepherd, Chow and Blue Healer, once saved his mother’s life.

“She had a stroke and fell and hit her head,” Cortez said. “Spike scratched her and woke her up.

“Everywhere I take him, he’s the most well-behaved little sidekick I could hope for,” he added. “He’s a good dog.”

Patty and Rob Toombs entered their golden retriever Alex posthumously. Alex became ill during a windstorm, and with no way to do emergency surgery, she had to be put down, Patty Toombs said.

“She lives in our hearts now,” Toombs said. “She’ll always be Top Dog to us.”

Spang and Pewitt entered two dogs, Andy and Max, both Havanese.

“Andy is very gentle and intelligent with an extensive repertoire of tricks, such as dancing, walking, rolling over and shaking hands,” they wrote in an e-mail. “He is a wonderful dog.”

Heath entered nine dogs in the contest. Two are her own: Keeper, a 13-year-old West Highland white terrier, and True, the aforementioned handsome golden retriever.

The others include three live dogs belonging to people she knows in the area, three “perpetual” dogs (carvings or statues around Langley) and Snoopy, the famous cartoon beagle created by Charles Schulz.

“There should be a winner among them, don’t you think?” Heath said. “I love, love, love dogs.”

Lucker’s 5-year-old miniature black poodle Diego was injured more than two years ago and is completely paralyzed in the hindquarters. He gets around with the aid of a canine cart with wheels that does the work of his hind legs.

Lucker said Diego is fully active. He even goes up and down stairs with his wheels, and once chased and harassed a coyote until it dropped a chicken it had snatched from the Lucker farm.

“He has such an amazing spirit,” Lucker said. “He has been the best sport. He just has never looked back.”

“We’re not sure if we have the winner,” she added. “But he’s the winner to us.”

Willeford said she has been amazed at the response.

“There are so many cute dogs, and beautiful photos,” she said. “I don’t know how we’re going to do it.”

She said they may have to come up with a few more prizes.

“People are clearly proud of their dogs,” Willeford said. “It’s been a hoot.”

How about a Top Cat contest?

“They’ll have to wait until we get some cat movies,” Willeford said.

For information about the Top Dog contest, call 730-7915 or e-mail

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