New Castle News

December 11, 2013

Dog license contest winners chosen

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Owners of a heroic dog and a precious family pet are winners in the Go for the Gold contest.

Brenda Ryhal of Bessemer won for an essay she wrote about how her dog had saved her life during a fire. Paris Adams, 8, of Wilmington Township, wrote about her love for her 3-year-old beagle, Emma Lou.

Richard Rapone, Lawrence County treasurer, sponsored the contest to promote the sale of dog licenses. The recipients and their dogs were recognized this week at the Lawrence County commissioners meeting.

Paris and her beagle wore matching red gingham dresses to receive their prize.

Paris’ 5-year-old sister, Abigail, and cousin, Skylar Korby, 4, also wore matching dresses and Emma Lou’s barking caused quite a stir in the courthouse. Paris and Abigail’s parents are Chad and Tracy Adams.

“The department of agriculture wants to boost dog license sales,” Rapone explained, “and they asked county treasurers to be creative in reaching out to people with dogs.”

Dog licenses are a different color each year, and when the licenses for 2014 arrived, Rapone noticed they were gold. So he decided to have an essay contest and call it “Go for the Gold,” he said. The idea was for entrants to write about what their dogs mean to them.

The winners received their 2014 dog licenses free. Rapone paid for them himself and bought them each a Christmas stocking filled with dog toys and treats.

Rapone received eight entries. Paris won for the regular dog license and Ryhal, in the disability/senior citizen category.

Ryhal sent a four-page essay about her beloved pit bull Sammie, who had saved her family’s lives one night when a chair that Ryhal had been sleeping on caught fire after she forgot to douse a candle.

Sammie woke her up by jumping on the flames and licking her.

“She is my world and best friend and I don’t ever want to be without her,” Ryhal wrote.

She noted Sammie routinely checks on her children while they are sleeping and will lick them until she sees them move. She also acts as their alarm clock for school by waking up at the same time each morning.

Paris wrote, “My dog is number one, because when I’ve had a bad day at school and come home, she is waiting by the door to cheer me up. I pick her up and hold her tight and she lets me know I’ll be alright. She helps me through good times and bad. She is the best beagle I’ve ever had. Emma Lou, I love you.”

Rapone said he picked the two essays that best touched his heart.

“It all comes down to the story that touches you the most,” he said. “When I read Paris’ and Brenda’s, both stories brought tears to my eyes.”

Rapone encouraged all dog owners to buy licenses to protect their pets and avoid fines under the state dog law.

He said the county has sold 376 licenses as of Wednesday, 146 of them online.