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Bailey and Riley unleashed: They are the Dogs of the Year - Ocean City Sentinel: Arts & Entertainment

Bailey and Riley unleashed: They are the Dogs of the Year

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Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 1:00 am

Bailey and Riley were in it to win it at Saturday’s Dog of the Year Award on the deck at the Port-O-Call Hotel.

The fundraiser held by the Ocean City Dog Park Association raises money annually to support the Ocean City dog park, and was especially competitive this year with 12 entrants and more than $12,000 raised.

It looked like Bailey could feel the pressure. Perhaps knowing the challenge the other contestants posed to his victory, the Boston terrier began to bark at other competitors just as the competition began. Knowing no fear, Bailey went after a much larger Boxer, Amigo, to give him a piece of his mind.

Luckily, owners Dawn Vanderslice and her son, Cole, scooped up the small dogs before any shenanigans ensued, but Bailey was determined to prove himself, and yipped and struggled to get free to distract other contestants.

It’s no wonder. Bailey and Riley were up against dogs several times their height and others with impressive credentials. Some dogs were even employed.

Benji can be proud of his position as the official greeter at French Real Estate, and Amigo holds down a position as the “Inn Keeper Dog” at Inn the Gardens Bed and Breakfast, and the bilingual pooch can respond to English and Spanish commands.

Bailey (not the yipper), a 7-year-old Cardigan Corgi, has undergone two experimental surgeries to repair a leaking lymph duct, and made a full recovery. The recovery is so complete that Bailey put out the most money-raising buckets for the competitions, a total of 46 locations.

After each of the worthy candidates was announced, it was time for their walk around the Port-O-Call Hotel pool, for dogs to show themselves to the judges and admiring spectators. Max, a black Labrador retriever known for loving the water, got a little thirsty on his walk around the pool and stopped to take a quick drink.

Then came the moment of truth – the time for all the dog ears to perk up.

The 2011 Dog of the Year was announced. The second runner up was Benji, and first runner up went to Bailey, the Cardigan Corgi. With a dramatic pause, the winner of the competition was announced, but, there wasn’t just one. Boston Terriers Bailey and Riley walked up to the announcer’s podium to get their medals and receive their crowns.

“I was really surprised when they called our dogs’ names,” said Dawn Vanderslice, who attributed their win to their fun and friendly personalities and good looks.

To celebrate, the Vanderslice family headed to the Sunday afternoon Phillies game, and winners Bailey and Riley were rewarded with a long walk on the beach.

First runner up Bailey apparently was also proud of her accomplishment and of all of the hard work she spent training for the competition. “She tried to lose weight for the competition,” said Tracy Allen, Bailey’s owner. “I was so excited to hear we got picked.”

That night, Bailey would take a break from dog food and get to indulge in “real food,” according to the owners, but Bailey already lives a charmed life. “She thinks she’s our daughter, not our dog,” said Allen’s wife, Dee.

Many of the pet owners are as devoted to their dogs as to children.

While competitors enjoyed a dip in the Port-O-Call pool after the awards, pitbull terrier Buddy jumped into the pool in excitement, forgetting that swimming was not his forte. Owner Rick Costigan jumped into the pool for the rescue, soaking all of his clothes, but retrieving Buddy unharmed.

Costigan said he would have done the same thing for any of his pets.

As the pets with better water skills enjoyed a casual swim, a costume contest went on next door, and each pooch was distinguished with as the most artistic, prettiest, most creative and, of vital importance to the contestants, earned dog treats as a reward.

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