12: The Barking Dog Contest

12: The Barking Dog Contest

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

The Barking Dog Contest

A dog’s bark may be worse than his bite, but everyone prefers his bark.

~Author Unknown

One morning, after I got my kids off to school, I turned on the radio. I tuned in halfway through a contest. This particular day, WYSZ-FM was offering a barking dog contest. The radio station wanted to see whose dog barked the most in one minute.

One by one, listeners phoned in and coaxed their dogs to yip it up for the radio audience. Stopwatch in hand, the DJ counted the number of times each dog barked. The station buzzed with calls.

It was a lighthearted hour, filled with fun and laughter, as each dog tried to bark its way to local stardom. Percy, Max, and Noodle Poodle barked in various octaves. Duke howled. Babe entertained us with her whining. One old dog only barked twice and I think his owner must have pinched him or he wouldn’t have barked at all.

The phone lines were flooded with calls from eager participants. German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, Schnauzers, and mixed breeds entertained the live radio audience. Some folks kept pressing the redial on their telephones because the lines were so busy. If they were patient and didn’t give up, many were pleasantly surprised to eventually get through.

Periodically the DJ would announce the prizes. “Call in folks! We have some great prizes and only one dog will win. This is what we will give to this grand prize winner: two concert tickets valued at fifty dollars, and no, you can’t take your dog to this concert. Sorrrr-ry! We’ll also give the winner a $10 gift certificate for dry cleaning, a fifty-pound bag of dog food, music CDs, and gift certificates to a fast food restaurant. These are great prizes, folks! Make your call now and tell Fido to bark.”

Hmmm. Those were great prizes. If only I had a dog. Then a brilliant idea occurred to me. Every time I stepped into my back yard, my neighbor’s new dog would go ballistic. This little white fluff-ball would spring into the air along our fence, yipping frantically whenever she saw me. This bundle of energy was named Belle. Although Belle was only a foot tall, there were days I was sure she could clear the top of our four-foot fence. It seemed as though she was on an invisible trampoline. And bark she did!

As the contest hour neared its end, I felt I needed to help Belle feel welcome in our neighborhood and make her a star. Maybe, if the truth were told, I was just greedy for prizes. I hadn’t won anything since eighth grade and decades had passed. Maybe Belle was my ticket to contest success.

I quickly called the station and registered “my dog.” I took my cordless phone to the back yard while I was on hold. Much to my chagrin, Belle wasn’t in the back yard. I started to panic.

Right at that moment, the DJ got on the line. I told him about my dilemma—how I didn’t own a dog but wanted to enter the contest. He laughed hysterically. He thought I wanted to bark to win those prizes. When he calmed down, I explained I wanted to enter the neighbor’s dog. That was fine with him.

I covered my receiver as I yelled to my neighbors through their screen door. “Bring Belle out here quickly—I need her—HURRY!” The little neighbor girl peered quizzically at me through their side window. Her older sister jumped into action when she heard the urgency in my voice. She flung open the door and out pounced Belle. Just like I had expected, Belle charged toward our fence and barked so ferociously that you could hear her all the way down the street. Her entrance was like perfect clockwork.

With stopwatch in hand, the DJ couldn’t believe what was happening. Belle yipped with such passion that she made me proud. Yip, yip, yip, yip, inhale, yip, yip, yip. The DJ almost couldn’t keep up with the count because she barked so fast. Belle was on a yipping marathon and SHE WON! Belle set a record several times over the nearest competitor.

The DJ had a hard time composing himself. He was still in stitches from our previous conversation. The adrenaline rush from being on the air coupled with hearing the DJ’s reaction and delight caught me off guard. I dissolved in laughter, with tears running down my cheeks. Maybe they were tears of joy from finally winning a contest.

The little neighbor girl, head tipped slightly to one side, stared at me with a wrinkled brow and puzzled expression. I’m sure that she and her little sister thought I was strange. No doubt, they wondered what was going on. After I pulled myself together, I was able to explain how Belle had become an instant celebrity.

I was pleasantly surprised when I had the opportunity to meet the DJ a year later, during a beach outing. When I reminded him of his barking dog contest, he broke into a wide grin. He explained that when I called in to enter the contest—and didn’t own a dog—it just about pushed him over the edge. It struck him funny that someone would do that, and then win. He mentioned that of all the contests he had presented during his morning radio programs, this was his favorite. And it was my favorite too!

What a happy day it was when I claimed my prizes. The two concert tickets, a $10 gift certificate for dry cleaning, a fifty-pound bag of dog food, music CDs, and gift certificates to a fast food restaurant were now mine. But I did split the prize with Belle. She got the dog food. She also won my affection. Although I still don’t own a dog, it’s not unusual to see me buying dog biscuits for my winner next door.

~Judy Gyde

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