- - Thursday, August 22, 2013

A dogfight has broken out on Capitol Hill, though this one has nothing to do with health care, immigration or spending. A group of ex-staffers put together the Hill’s first “Top Dog” competition, where congressional offices could submit their beagles, boxers and bulldogs and have them voted on through social media.

In the dog days of summer, the competition between House and Senate offices and Hill support agencies has become pretty fierce.

The first annual “Top Dog” competition is being held by Fireside21, a Web-services firm founded by former congressional staff members. Voting for the hottest dogs in Congress opened Monday with 75 bipartisan “dog-testants” and the polls close Sept. 6. The pets are nominated by their owners, competing against other entrants for the elite title of “Top Dog,” determined by the most points received.

All participants are invited to a final reception Sept. 10, with the top 10 canine candidates receiving a dog bowl and every entrant receiving a leash.

The poll for pooches seems to be one of the hotter topics around Capitol Hill these days, according to Kenny Ames, Fireside21’s director of outreach, who came up with the idea.

“It’s a fun summer-recess thing to do. … I’ve been on the Hill for many years, and as we go office to office supporting our clients and reaching out to staffers, you always see members and their dogs,” Mr. Ames said.

Each candidate is required to submit a profile including name, breed, likes, interests, tricks and any other qualities that makes their dog stand out from the rest. Above each name and breed is a picture to capture their personality and for voters to decide which dog is the cutest. The contestants receive one point for every “like” rating on social media, and two points for every “share” click.

Among those posing for the cameras is Milton, a Chow that currently sits in second place with 10,715 votes and counting. Representing the House Press Gallery, Milton’s photogenic picture sits above a brief description of his tricks and interests. Along with spending a fair share of his working hours between the House and Senate, Milton has “shaken paws with ten senators, taking the chance to ask for a few bones.”

But Milton will need a late-campaign surge to run down Winston, the English Lab representing the office of Rep. William M. “Mac” Thornberry, Texas Republican, the current contest leader with more than 15,000 points.

Drew Cannon, proud owner of Milton, said that he feels pretty good about the race thus far, explaining that Chows are very proud dogs that do not stoop to negative campaigning.

Milton, he said in a phone interview, “would rather run a front-porch campaign.”

What would Milton do if he met the winner? He would congratulate him and shake his paw, said Mr. Cannon.

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