By Michael Jacobs
Trish Azlin wasn’t looking to buy a dog when she walked into Petland in Dunwoody five years ago; she just wanted to narrow down her choices of breeds for the future.
Her plans changed when she saw a 2-month-old Papillon playing with another dog at the store. Papillon wasn’t a breed Azlin was considering, but she fell in love and took the puppy, Lexy, to her Sandy Springs home.
Now Azlin hopes Lexy will prove just as irresistible online at milkbone.com, where the 5-year-old is among 100 finalists in a national contest to find 100-year-old Milk-Bone’s first spokesdog. The dog with the most votes when the polls close Nov. 18 will win a $100,000 modeling contract for an advertising campaign throughout 2009.
Just for making the top 100, Lexy has won her owner a digital camera worth $300.
It’s not the 6½-pound Lexy’s first bid for fame and fortune. She was a Georgia finalist in the Kibbles ’n Bits Smoochable Pooch contest in 2006 and won a year’s supply of dog food for her top finish in the small-dog video category of Eukanuba’s Beauty of the Breeds contest last year.
“I enter her in contests from time to time because she’s so photogenic,” Azlin said. “I love to take pictures of her, and she loves it. Whenever I pull out the camera, she knows it’s treat time.”
An Internet search turned up the Milk-Bone Moment contest, and Azlin decided to take a shot at fulfilling a dream of seeing Lexy in print or TV ads. She picked a photo her mother took outside the family home in Madison, Ala., wrote a brief essay (250-word maximum) to explain the picture and waited to hear from the judges.
The good news came Oct. 16. Now the photo is online at milkbone.icmodus.com/?id=8600, where Lexy’s fans can vote for her and send her photo to others.
Azlin said the small Milk-Bone biscuits have been a key part of Lexy’s agility training. That training has gone well enough that the pair will compete in their first Teacup Dogs Agility Association event Nov. 22 in Alpharetta. Milk-Bone biscuits also have helped Lexy learn to ride a skateboard.
Her four-wheeling days started as a joke when a friend gave her a skateboard, but her training has a serious side. She is working to pass the American Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Test so she can become a therapy dog in children’s hospitals and put her tricks and cuteness to good use.
The spokesdog money also would come in handy for Lexy and fellow Papillon Dixie, a former show dog Azlin adopted in 2006. Dixie needs knee surgery to avoid a blown-out anterior cruciate ligament and arthritis, and Lexy was diagnosed three months ago with a degenerative back disease.
In the spirit of election season, Azlin and Lexy are campaigning hard with fliers and appearances at pet stores, veterinary offices and elsewhere in the Atlanta area. Although the Milk-Bone site doesn’t say where the dogs are from, Azlin hopes civic pride will lift Lexy above the rawhide-tough competition.
“I tell my friends all the time that Lexy will be famous one day,” Azlin said. “I stand by that, so mark my words.”