Scoring more than 1,200 votes, Baarney, a Bedlington terrier who belongs to Patricia and Robin Patterson of New Port Richey, has been named one of the top 10 canine finalists in USA Today's Marley & Me photo contest.
A photo of Baarney decorating a Christmas tree is featured at USATODAY.com and also was featured in the Dec. 22 print edition of USA Today. He was chosen from a field of more than 700 applicants nationwide to place 10th in the competition.
"It was quite cool to see so many people interested in it and supporting Baarney," said Patricia Patterson, owner of Patterson Marketing Group. "The minute the voting was closed, I knew he had made the top 10."
Baarney, according to Patterson, "took the news in his normal laid-back manner. We told him and he cocked his head like he does when you tell him something new, and we're quite sure we heard him say 'I guess that means I get some ice cream.'
In addition to his favorite treat, Baarney has accumulated a number of accolades and much recognition as a result of his win.
"Baarney has become quite the celebrity," she said. "We did an event with Doggie Cakes in New Port Richey and the SPCA Suncoast and people were coming in saying either 'that's the dog in the paper' or 'that dog looks a lot like the one in the paper.' It was quite cute. People who know Baarney call him 'the celebrity.'
The winner of the contest was Gracie, a 10-month-old Yorkie and Maltese mix from Nashville. Gracie earned more than 11,000 votes, according to the Web site.
Patricia Patterson posted Baarney's photo in the December contest, intended to celebrate the Christmas Day release of the movie "Marley & Me," starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson.
"His DoggySpace.com friends have sent him tons of congratulations," she said. "My clients keep asking about him. He has been mentioned on quite a few doggie blogs and on the show 'Daytime' on Channel 8. In fact, the host Cyndi Edwards met him and said he was probably the cutest dog she has ever met. He is quite a star and of course everyone who meets him always says, 'He's even cuter than his picture. He should have won.'
Patterson has owned Baarney, whose name is spelled with two A's to liken the "baa" sound that lambs make, for three-and-a-half years.
This is not Baarney's first brush with fame. He is the official spokesdog for the Pattersons' Holiday-based company Read My Paws, which makes custom, 100 percent organic cotton shirts with environmentally sensitive logos for dogs and sometimes their human owners.
Read My Paws donates part of its proceeds to SPCA Suncoast; in addition, Baarney makes special appearances to raise money for the organization.
"His most important job is spokesdog for Read My Paws," Patterson said.
Baarney also serves as "director of security" for Patterson Marketing Group. He has a little sister, Tabaatha, also owned by the Pattersons.
Patterson is proud of her pooch.
"I was happy for him because I found out he would be in the print edition of the USA Today and I thought that was awesome," she said. "To make the top 10 in the country out of more than 700 doggies is quite an accomplishment."
WHAT: Scoring more than 1200 votes, Baarney, a Bedlington terrier who belongs to Patricia and Robin Patterson of New Port Richey, rounds out the top 10 canine finalists in USA Today's Marley & Me photo contest.
COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS: Baarney is the official spokesdog for his owners' Holiday-based company Read My Paws, which produces T-shirts that benefit the Suncoast SPCA.
WHAT'S NEXT?: Baarney and the crew at Read My Paws are kicking off the new year with a promotional campaign that will include blogs, e-mail promotions and photos.
GET INVOLVED: Baarney has a blog and gets fan mail at Baarney @ReadMyPaws.com. For information, visit www.ReadMyPaws.com or call 1-866-934-5320. To see Baarney at the USA Today Web site, visit USATODAY.com and click the Life tab, scroll down and click on "Top Dog Winner," then click "See Photos Of Top Dogs."