Everybody feels their dog is the top dog, but when Patch launched its Top Dog Contest several weeks ago it soon became apparent that there was one dog in Manchester that stood head and shoulders above the rest - even though his shoulders were only several inches off the ground.
Gizmo "the Wonderdoglet," a three-pound Mi-Ki who moonlights as a therapy dog, .
In fact, it seemed each and every day that voting went on readers (and Patch editors) learned some new and amazing facts about Gizmo: he had a Facebook fan page set up by an admirer, he was BFFs with a giant horse named Chippee, he was extremely fond of tractors, he visits plenty of retirement homes and brightens plenty of seniors' spirits, he has been the subject of both poetry composed about him and rap songs written and performed about him, he even held a press conference with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman last fall after the October snowstorm that left much of the state without power for the better part of a week.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
It almost seemed as though there was nothing that this dog could not do.
So, more than a tad curious - and starting to become a little alarmed about the following built up around this small canine - Manchester Patch Editor David Moran arranged to sit down with Gizmo and his owner Jennifer Adams and find out what exactly makes this little dog tick.
Adams, a special education teacher at Arthur H. Illing Middle School in town, says that she believes it was fate that put her and Gizmo together.
She had recently lost her 19-year old dachshund, Mr. Moxie, who Adams said served as a therapy dog for many years and was in the market for a new therapy dog. Adam says people kept suggesting the Mi-Ki as a breed that makes for good therapy dogs, but Adams was not familiar with the breed. But a visit to a doctors office changed all that, when she glanced down at the classified section of the local paper and saw a picture of a black and white Mi-Ki staring back at her.
It was Gizmo, who was being housed at a breeder's in Rhode Island, and Adams said she knew the first time she set eyes on Gizmo that this was her new dog.
"I fell in love," Adams said. "I didn't even say hi to the breeder. I just said, 'there's my dog. Here's your check.'"
That was about two and a half years ago. And Gizmo has grown to become an integral part of Adams life, and the lives of many, many others he has met either through his therapy work or simply out and about running errands with Adams and his "sister" Mini Cooper, a 10-year old poodle/dachshund mix.
Adams said that Gizmo even so profoundly captivated several students in her class after a brief visit that they came to her and asked if they could write poems or songs about Gizmo, students that Adams said "threw fits" several weeks earlier when they were tasked with a similar assignment.
"It's just so inspiring to see the difference a dog can make in the lives of both kids and adults who are going through a rough time," said Adams. "Sometimes when another human can't reach them, a dog can."
And Gizmo's moment in the sun seems finally to have come. In addition to resoundingly winning the Manchester round of Patch's Top Dog Contest and advancing to the regional competiton - where he has again jumped out to a commanding lead - seniors and staff at the Village at Buckland Court nursing home, where Gizmo does much of his therapy work, have set up a computer in the lobby next to a poster encouraging residents and visitors to vote for Gizmo in the contest. Gizmo also recently won the $500 "top prize" in an essay contest for an essay he wrote about his life (which Adams may have helped him with).
Adams says that she intends to donate the $500 essay prize to local dog rescue charities, and has also pledged to donate the $100 gift card Gizmo would receive if he won the regional round of the Patch contest to the Sadie Mae Foundation, a Bolton-based pet rescue organization.
And if Gizmo were to win the overall competition, where the top prize is a hand-painted portrait of the winning dog from noted Connecticut artist (and former Patch local editor) Carrie Jacobson, Adams says that she would donate the picture to the Buckland Court Nursing Home so that some of Gizmo's biggest fans can see him (or at least his picture) everyday.
The contest is all in good fun, Adams admits, and seems to have enlivened many of her Illing students and even their parents to arrange "get out the vote" efforts on Gizmo's behalf, but Adams says she just sees it as another opportunity for Gizmo to help people in the community.
"A couple of months ago I was thinking about Gizmo's Facebook fan page and if I could use it in someway to help people," Adams said. "And now this contest has come along and Gizmo seems to be getting all of this recognition and attention. It's great."
But Adams says that all the recent success and accolades hasn't phased Gizmo in anyway - probably because he's a dog, after all.
"I didn't even tell him he won the Manchester round of the contest," Adams joked. "I didn't want him to get a big head."
To vote for Gizmo, or any of the other fine dogs in the regional round of Patch's Top Dog Contest click .