Out of tens of thousands of entries in a national competition, a little Lexington dog stood out because of her devotion to her owners.
Callie, a toy Australian shepherd who belongs to Joe and Ann Catt, was one of 10 winners in the Early Times All-American Dogs contest.
Her picture is on a billboard on New Circle Road between Harrodsburg and Nicholasville roads, and she is featured as the June dog in a 2020 calendar that’s available for download on the distilling company’s website.
A whisky barrel dog house was recently delivered to her owners’ home by tractor-trailer.
Joe Catt said he and his wife got Callie as a pup nine years ago.
“I picked her up and she peed all down the front of me,” he recalled. “She picked me.”
Within days, Catt said, Callie was following him outside in the morning and bringing in the newspaper.
“She’s lively, over-affectionate,” and, he said, “very protective.”
Callie has been a beloved companion as Joe Catt battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and after Ann Catt was diagnosed with breast cancer, Callie became even more watchful.
Joe Catt said he often asks Callie if she wants to ride along with him when he leaves the house, but he says Callie will no longer come unless Ann Catt goes too.
“If my wife says, ‘I’m going, Callie,’ she’ll take off running for the car,” Joe Catt said.
Catt said he entered Callie in the Early Times contest on a whim after seeing it on Facebook.
“Callie really rose to the top,” said Dallas Cheatham, senior brand manager for Early Times. “She has a quiet spirit, but we really felt like her loyalty got her owner through some tough times recently, and we felt like that’s what our Early Times All-American Dog was really all about.”
Cheatham said the company “started seeing this amazing connection between our Early Times fans and a passion for dogs” a few years ago.
A partnership with K9s for Warriors, which provides service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury or military sexual trauma as a result of post-9/11 military service, grew out of that.
But, Cheatham said, “we also wanted to find a way to honor kind of an everyday dog,” she said.
The All-American Dog Contest was the company’s answer.
Early Times Kentucky Whisky is owned by the Brown-Forman Company and has a history dating to 1860.
To toast its All-American dogs, the company created the “Dog-Tail” cocktail, which it said is made in a rocks glass with ice, 1.5 ounces of Early Times, 3 ounces of lemonade, one ounce of cranberry juice and a pretzel stick for garnish.