In the weeks leading up to a heated presidential election, another close race played out that had dog lovers across the country faithfully voting online every 24 hours for their favorite furry friends. For four weeks, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 9, nearly 1 million votes were cast in Garden & Gun magazine’s Good Dog Contest.
In the end, out of nearly 12,000 canines entered in the contest, it came down to just two dogs who were neck and neck for the lead – Oscar the Blind Dog, a bluetick coonhound from Mobile, and a puckish-looking blue heeler from New Jersey named Hank. The final tally: 45,238 votes for Oscar and 44,054 votes for Hank. The next runner-up, Lilly, a standard poodle from Florida, had fewer than half as many votes as either Oscar or Hank, with 20,641.
Oscar licked ’em all, just as his supporters believed he would.
“People got extremely competitive about Oscar winning,” said his owner, Jenn Greene. “It became a Mobile mission.”
When Greene heard about the contest, she decided Oscar might have a shot at winning. She chose the perfect photo – Oscar standing on a low branch of an ancient oak tree in Washington Square, right in the middle of the Oakleigh Historic Garden District – and did her best to encourage others to vote for her sweet, blind pup. Her Facebook posts, each accompanied by an adorable photo of Oscar, told his story, from how he lost his eyes when he was an 11-week-old puppy, to how much he loves his “brother” Charles, to his fondness for burgers from Callaghan’s Irish Social Club.
For many, the voting process was something to look forward to every day.
Cheering Oscar on through social media shares became something of an obsession, especially in Mobile. One friend, Jason Valentine, created and shared several funny memes featuring Oscar.
Tom Andrews, another friend of Greene’s, shared a heartfelt post about Oscar:
“He’s gregarious, never meets a stranger, he’s nearly fearless and lives life with a joy that any of us would be lucky to experience,” he wrote. “Better than all that, he shares that joy freely with all that he meets. You cannot walk away from an interaction with Oscar without having had your day improved.”
Greene and Oscar were invited to a virtual Mobile City Council meeting via Zoom. When Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson mentioned Oscar in his online newsletter, Jenn couldn’t help throwing a little shade toward his closest competitor: “There’s no way Hank’s mayor is showing him this kind of love,” she commented on Facebook.
As the winner of the most votes, Oscar was named top dog in the readers’ choice category. Another dog, Dylian, a pool-loving Chesapeake Bay retriever from El Paso, Texas, was selected by editors of the magazine as the overall winner.
While Oscar hasn’t met any of the dogs he competed against, he harbors no ill will toward any of them. It seems he’s…
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