WAPAKONETA — There's no doubt Zoey is cute.
The winner of the 2014 Lima News' Cutest Pet Contest, sponsored by Busy B Realty, just might have trouble convincing the people who know her best that she's a pet and not a sibling in the Henderson household.
“She does some odd things,” said Tonya Henderson, of Wapakoneta, about her 3-year-old Yorkshire Terrier. “It's like human-like, probably because she treats her like a child.”
She, in this case, is Tonya's 15-year-old daughter, Kate Henderson. Since the puppy first arrived in her home, Kate began putting American Girl doll clothes onto the dog's small frame and even pushing her around in a stroller until Zoey fell asleep.
That's inspired countless photographs just like the winning photo of Zoey, dressed in a pink shirt and pink skirt along with a pink beret.
“She likes it, so I keep doing it,” said Kate Henderson, who suspects Zoey might like the color pink as much as she does. “I think she likes it, at least. I know I do.”
Zoey beat out plenty of competition. There were 122 submissions of pet photos in the contest, garnering a total of 2,510 votes.
“There were a lot of entries,” said Tonya Henderson. “There were a lot of cute pets.”
Zoey was the clear-cut winner, though, getting nearly a quarter of all votes and 170 more than the second-place finisher, Charlie, a pug-poodle mix who belongs to Ericka Gerding, of Lima.
“I didn't think she'd finish first, honestly,” said Kate Henderson, who said she checked the voting daily to see how her pet fared. “I knew there was a lot of competition out there.”
Ultimately, people fell in love with the charismatic Zoey, who Dawn Arheit, owner of Busy B Realty, tagged “a chew toy but adorable” compared to her larger dog.
“I'm a huge animal lover and have always been. I have too many to count,” she said. “This was the perfect contest for me to be a part of.”
Zoey and her family won a $100 prize and a sizable following online. Kate Henderson wanted to buy Zoey a new toy, as she rips through squeaking dog toys fairly easily for such a small canine.
Zoey loves to be held and has some funky mannerisms, such as climbing atop the couch like a cat, her family members said. She once found herself stuck closed in the refrigerator accidentally, forcing the family to put a bell on her so the stealthy puppy could be noticed.
The Henderson family enlisted a large extended family and friends of two siblings in college at Bowling Green State University and Miami University to help push the Yorkie into first place.
“We didn't have to tell them who to vote for,” Tonya Henderson said. “We just said, 'Look at her picture, and you'll want to vote for Zoey.'”