The bond between person and pet is revered in our society. What could be more “aww”-inducing than a pup wrestling with his owner or a kitty purring for hers? Who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon showing your friend the 100 pictures you have of Fido on your phone?
So the staff at The Seattle Times decided to give the people what they want: a pet selfie contest. With gift cards from Fremont’s Petapoluza Pet Supply at stake, the people responded, seeking fame, fortune and the simple joy of seeing themselves cuddling their beloved pets on The Seattle Times’ website. We received nearly 500 submissions featuring the usual — dogs, cats, horses, birds — and the unusual, including a hedgehog, a duck, a llama, a lizard and even a pet rock.
When the competition closed, judges dubbed Ashley Bowen and her horse Kismet’s “Photo bomb selfie” the Best in Show. Bowen explains she was trying to take a nice picture of the two of them for their birthday (which is on the same day), but Kismet, 13, had other ideas.
“You tell him to smile for the camera and he sticks his tongue out,” said Bowen, 28, who lives in Gig Harbor. Bowen says she takes at least two or three pictures with Kismet every day and has dozens on her phone (her three other horses don’t get as much love). Kismet will do anything for attention and has strong opinions about which music Bowen uses for their freestyle dressage routines (he hates country and heavy metal).
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“He’s a goofball,” she said. “He does anything he can to get people to look at him and talk to him.”
If Kismet is goofy, Joe and Michelle Sievers’ dog Sassy, winner of the Best Dog category, is, well, sassy. A 7-year-old shelter dog who found a home four years ago with the Sievers, Sassy has her own wine labels (though she is only allowed a sip) and has done a modeling gig for the dog park at the downtown apartment complex where she and her owners live. In the winning image, Sassy triumphantly shows Joe Siever who’s really in charge of the household.
Sassy meets her match in The Fattest, the winner of the Best Cat category. The Fattest (yes, that is her name) has almost 5,000 fans on Facebook. Her owner, Steve Park, initially took the winning selfie, where he and The Fattest lounge on the grass outside his house, with the intent of sharing it with The Fattest’s fans. He protests that he’s “not a big selfie person.”
“She’s the queen of the neighborhood,” said Park, 35, who lives in Shoreline. “She’s very entitled.”
But The Fattest’s roots are much humbler. She was the runt of the litter, born to a feral, three-legged, one-eyed cat just after she crossed the border from Mexico.
“She came to the U.S. looking for a better kitty life,” said Park, who is allergic to cats but doesn’t let that stop him from sleeping with his beloved pets every night. His other cat, Stella, is “socially awkward so she doesn’t have a Facebook page.”
The Fattest, now 6, is the picture of a true American success story, going from runt to diva, with followers, a Best Cat selfie win, and a desire to be rubbed “on her schedule.”
Other prizes were awarded, but Kismet, Sassy and The Fattest really stole the show.