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Mercedes earns Pet Idol honors

December 9, 2012 by Leave a Comment

She only weighs five pounds, but this Chihuahua has drawn huge admiration among readers throughout The Times and Democrat Region, becoming the eighth annual T&D Pet Idol.

Mercedes is a sweet, playful canine whose owner says she brings more joy into her life than she could have ever imagined. Arlene Perry of Orangeburg, Mercedes’ doting owner, said she and her canine companion were very excited about the Pet Idol title.

“I wanted to scream out. I had to control myself. All I said was, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ I prayed and asked God to let her win, or let her be in the top 10,” Perry said.

A ravenous eater, Mercedes snacks on Purina’s Pup-Peroni Dog Snacks. She enjoys playing with children and her owner, especially sitting on Perry’s lap to watch TV.

“One of the greatest parts of my day is sitting in the recliner and watching TV together with her. I like when she looks up at me with those pretty brown eyes and jumps to give me a quick lick on the nose. She’s a faithful friend,” Perry said.

She also engages Mercedes in “Easter egg hunts,” which are a special treat for the canine.

“Every day when I bring her out of the house, I have an Easter egg hunt. I hide eggs and have a little hunt with her. I’ll also have little pieces of dog treats around the family room when I watch TV. She finds each and every hiding spot in less than a minute,” Perry said, adding that Mercedes is also rewarded for going to the bathroom on her puppy pad instead of the floor.

“I give her a treat and I’ll say, ‘Go, Mercedes, go.’ She gets on her hind legs and dances for me … until I give her that treat,” she said.

Perry said she is pleased at how far her dog’s health has come since she came into her life in November 2011.

“It just goes to show you what love can do. Love brought her out from where she was. She was very poor and thin,” she said. “You could see her ribs and rib cage. She’s brought me joy, and I hope to give her the love that she needs.

“She’s so peaceful and brings me so much joy, and I’m glad I put her in a contest that will benefit two very good organizations. I thank everyone who voted for her. Those who are able to bring a pet into their lives could not imagine the amount of joy that a pet could bring them.”

Griff Williams of Branchville and his 160-pound Great Dane, Zeus, were the winners of The T&D’s second annual Pet & Owner Look-A-Like Contest.

Ashley Williams said she and her 5-year-old son were happy he and Zeus won the contest.

“We were so excited. I asked Griff what he was going to use his gift card on, and he said, ‘Toys.’ He said he’s going to buy Zeus a new collar,” said Williams. She said Griff got everyone in on the voting process.

“He told his teacher and everybody to vote for him. Trust me, he cared. He had people coming up to us at his school’s Halloween carnival telling him they voted,” Williams said.

The Pet Idol winner and the nine finalists have captured the attention of T&D readers since the contest’s inception. This year’s eighth annual Pet Idol contest featured 44 entries of dogs and cats. Dogs and even a goat were featured in the Pet & Owner Look-Alike Contest.

Georgianne Walton, assistant to the publisher of The T&D, said, “Each year at The T&D, we hold a photo session with one of our professional photographers with the Pet Idol winner and the nine finalists and a session with the Pet and Owner Look-A-Like winner. The sessions run for about 30 minutes to an hour each, and we take photos of the pets in different poses and use a variety of props. We choose some of the photos to use on the cover of our Pet Idol poster that is inserted in the paper each year for Christmas. The others are used to create memorable personalized prize items for each pet. We give each finalist a disc with their pet’s photos on it.”

Readers of the newspaper served as judges for the contest. Each pet’s picture was published in The T&D’s Sunday Pet Idol special section that was published on Oct. 28.

Readers voted for their favorite pet, making a voluntary 25 cents-per-vote donation to the Newspapers in Education Program. Those who didn’t wish to donate were allowed to cast one free vote per ballot.

“Money raised through this project will be donated to the Newspapers in Education program, and a portion (will go) to the Maude Schiffley Chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Orangeburg,” Walton said. “Also, we would like to thank our title sponsor, Petsense, which contributed lots of prizes and treats for our winners.”

She thanked all the participants and voters who were a part of the 2013 Pet Idol Contest.

An avid supporter of both the SPCA and the NIE project, Perry said she was glad to know that the money raised through the contest would be donated to both causes.

“Both of those are worthy causes. My baby won, but those organizations are benefiting from my donations. The school that I used to work at benefited from NIE,” said Perry, who retired in 2007 after serving 18 years as the media specialist at Bethune-Bowman Elementary School in Bowman.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534.

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Mercedes earns Pet Idol honors

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