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Cute Alert: Lucky Dog Rescue's 4th Annual Gingerbread Doghouse Fundraiser

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Some events just make you go "Aww," or in the case of the Lucky Dog Rescue Gingerbread Doghouse Charity Competition, "P-aww." The popular fourth annual event took place this past Monday night in the Hotel Icon Lounge, drawing dog lovers and families in the spirit of giving and Christmas cheer.

"We are so fortunate to have this annual event - it is a key fundraiser for us to continue our mission and directly affects the number of dogs we're able to save from BARC," said Jodi Eisenhardt, a volunteer and spokesperson for the event. "Every single thing for this event is donated, so we're so grateful to everyone," she continued.

Donations included the gingerbread doghouses entered in the competition, light bites and drinks from the Hotel Icon's new restaurant, Line and Lariat, beer from local beermaker Karbarch brewery, cute, bone-shaped gingerbread favors created by Three Brothers Bakery, the $25 suggested door donation, and funds from the silent auction for each of the gingerbread houses on display. You could also sponsor a dog by selecting one of the puppy-faced Christmas tree ornaments hanging from the "Sponsor" Christmas tree.

One of the most meaningful donations came from one of the youngest attendees. Nine-year-old Holden Mafrige Stackhouse had been selling lemonade all summer, and he saved all $123 of it specifically so he could donate at the event. He asked his mom to bid on one of the gingerbread houses, too.

I was a judge for the competition, and it was a hard task that I took very seriously. To be honest, from the level of detail, creativity and energy obviously expended to create each of the offerings, they were all winners.

But someone had to win.

In third place was an adorable Snoopy Doghouse. It had a big Snoopy lying atop a peanut-shaped-shingle rooftop made of Nutter Butter. "Peanuts!" I exclaimed, as I made the connection between the comic strip and the shape of shingles. Created by Kristen Shafbuch of Sorrel Urban Bistro, the house included Pirouette cookies, candy canes, gumdrops, colored mints, pretzels, Red Hots and Skittles.

In second place, Heather Campbell, Robert Jucker and Rachelle Richardson of Three Brothers Bakery created what was basically a cute little strip mall for dogs, complete with its "Dog Bowl Coffee Shop," a Doggie Salon to do hair, and a Doggie Tailor to make doggie clothes. Each shop had its own personality and dog proprietor.

In first place, Julie Busch-Johnson and Liz Sanford Westwood Country Club created a truly beautiful replica of the house from the Pixar movie Up, complete the with the dog from the movie, and the balloons coming out the chimney. They used colored gum to create the shingles, colored coconut to replicate the grass, and skittles to make the balloon. When I commented that the only thing missing was the man from the movie, Busch-Johnson explained, "It was supposed to be a dog house."

Kevin Bryant from the new Capitol at St. Germain made two doghouses, an edible one for humans, made of gingerbread with a bone-shaped insignia carved into it, with another house in the back made of dog-edible parts. Cute little dogs could be seen frolicking in front of the house. He took home the prize for most creative.

John Turner of Blackfinn American Grille created the largest of all the offerings. Towering above the other doghousess, the paw and bone-themed doghouse came complete with a furry plush dog inside.

Killen's Steakhouse's Johnny Wesley created a festive, red doghouse with blue Christmas lights, a bone-shaped door, vanilla wafer-shingled roof and fence, candy canes, and Lifesavers. A black-and-white doggie sat in front of the doorstep, as if to guard its entrance.

Marcus Leal and Anthony Foroi Corporate Executive Chef Dan Phalen of Luby's put together the funniest premise for a doghouse. There was a man lying inside the doghouse, where the name "Sparky" had been crossed out, and the name "Bill" had been put in its place. He'd given his wife a tool set for Christmas, so she put him the doghouse, displacing poor Sparky, who was seen moping on the lawn. Cute gingerbread man-shaped cookies lined the rooftop of the house, while mints, gummy bears, and colorful chocolate mints lined the frame of the house.

And last but not least, Joy Vreeland from Hotel Icon's new restaurant, Line & Lariat, created a Christmas-themed duo of houses.

The grand fundraising tally for the event was $3,621.73. "We are thrilled to have these much need funds," said Lucky Dog Founder Millicent Gerdes. For more information on how you can contribute and help homeless dogs, visit www.luckyrescue.org.

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