9-year-old Bailey crowned Dog of the Year

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Ann Richardson / Bailey, a 9-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, is named Dog of the Year at the annual crowning event supporting the Ocean City Dog Park Association Sunday, Nov. 11 at the Port O’Call. Ann Richardson / Bailey, a 9-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, is named Dog of the Year at the annual crowning event supporting the Ocean City Dog Park Association Sunday, Nov. 11 at the Port O’Call.

OCEAN CITY – Tails wagging as the suspense built, some of the four-legged, furry contestants couldn’t help but bark. It was, after all the annual crowning of the Dog of the Year and the canines were excited.

After months of fundraising, and an afternoon of strutting their stuff in front of the large crowd as their biographies were read, it all came down to the big announcement.

The Dog of the Year contest is sponsored by the Ocean City Dog Park Association, and funds raised in the contest go to support the park.

A dozen contestants competed for the crown, which went to Bailey, a 9-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever. The island’s new canine ambassador – cool, calm and collected on the pool deck of the host Port O’Call hotel – took it all in stride.

According to his owners, Patty McBride and Skip Lipsett, Bailey is the best friend everyone should have the opportunity to meet. Though he wasn’t crazy about the glittering crown, Bailey relished his moment in the spotlight.

“We love him and we felt the dog park was a really good cause,” McBride said.

The couple lives in Washington Township, but owns a home in Ocean City. Bailey, she said, loves to be in Ocean City.

According to his owners, Bailey “aims to please” in any way he can. He’s always there in the morning with a snuggle and there when they return from a busy day with a “big ‘Hello’ and ‘Happy to see you!’”

Bailey loves to play, especially in the water. With the temperatures hovering in the upper 50s, Bailey had his sights set on the nearby beach, where he loves to play in the waves. McBride says he’s a superb Frisbee player.

“There are not enough words to describe the love we feel for him,” she said.

First runner up went to two dogs, brothers, Oopsie and Oliver. The 3-year-old grey and white standard poodles spend a lot of time at the Donna Gay Dillon Boutique on Asbury Avenue, but they love meeting new friends all over the island. “The boys,” as they are known, are big party animals.

C-Max, a bichon-poodle mix, was second runner-up and campaigned on the slogan “All dogs deserve a second chance” because he could show people that even “designer dogs” can be found in shelters. His new family fell in love with him instantly and he claims to be elated and grateful for his new home. The happy little pup enjoyed his prance around the pool deck.

Other contestants included Holly, a rescue papillon-poodle mix who loves chasing birds on the beach; Joey, who loves to chase rabbits; Dori Anne, a puppy mill rescue dog who loves long walks on the beach; Cody, a bolt of energy who loves to play ball; Sandy, the self-appointed official greeter at the dog park; Blaise, a rescue dog who barks with excitement when he sees the dog park; Peanut, a certified therapy dog; Miss Lily, a full spirited god who loves children; and Paul Newman, who knows as many tricks as there are flavors of salt water taffy.

Watching carefully as the new Dog of the Year was announced was last year’s winter, Misty Morning, a black standard poodle.

Misty and her owners, Joan and Jack Billet, come from Somers Point each day to enjoy the park. The couple got involved with the dog park and Jack is now the organization’s president. Joan Villet organized the contest this year.

Misty came into the Billet’s lives in the midst of tragedy when they suddenly lost their dog, Shadow. Unable to “do without a poodle,” the retired couple found Misty.

Joan Billet said Misty loves the dog park and anyone sitting on those benches, people or doggie, becomes her friend and is fair game for kisses.

“We love the dog park, we go almost every day,” she said. “Misty really looks forward to it. It gives her a chance to run around and play with other dogs.”

More than a decade ago, the founders of the Ocean City Dog Park dreamed of creating a fenced-in, off-leash dog park where well-behaved canines could exercise in a clean, safe environment without endangering or annoying people, property or wildlife.

With a lot of lobbying and a lot of fundraising, the dog park became a reality. Proceeds from the contest go towards maintaining the one-acre park at 45th Street.

Paw passes, which members buy to gain access to the park, don’t cover the expenses of operating the park and making needed improvements. The annual contest helps fund numerous projects, such as a soft ground cover to cushion doggie paws and a shed.

Pam Whitman, the prime flutist for the Ocean City Pops and a founding member of the dog park, started the Dog of the Year contest. Dogs “apply” to be contestants in the spring. Candidates are selected and go to work raising funds. Each dog was photographed and represents its own “month” on an Ocean City Dog Park calendar, which is also sold to raise funds.

“Misty had a great year serving as an ambassador,” Jack Billet said. “We took her to a lot of events. Having this contest helps spread the word about the dog park, and taking the Dog of the Year out as an ambassador does also. We hope the new Dog of the Year will be as active as Misty was.”

The crowning event was canceled twice due to Hurricane Sandy.

“It’s really been nice to do something fun today and get everyone’s mind off the storm,” said Jack Billet.

The dog park is looking for new board members, Joan Billet said.

“We will be holding an open meeting soon,” she said, adding that information about the meeting would be available at oceancitydogpark.org.

“We are looking for people to volunteer, people who have some space in their lives to get involved,” she said.

City publicist Mark Soifer said he always attends the event. Two years ago, his family’s bichon frise was a contestant.

“It’s fun,” he said. “The city is very happy to have a dog park. It’s a great place for the dogs to see each other and hang out. It’s nice we were able to have this today, get our minds off the storm.”

Ocean City Dog of the Year contestants at the Port O'Call Sunday for the crowning event. Ocean City Dog of the Year contestants at the Port O'Call Sunday for the crowning event.

Ocean City Dog of the Year contestants at the Port O'Call Sunday for the crowning event. Ocean City Dog of the Year contestants at the Port O'Call Sunday for the crowning event.

Ocean City Dog of the Year contestants at the Port O'Call Sunday for the crowning event. Ocean City Dog of the Year contestants at the Port O'Call Sunday for the crowning event.


blog comments powered by Disqus