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Dogs connect the campus community at Westminster Mutt Show

Dogs are a large part of the culture at Westminster College. In celebration of the campus’ dogs, Westminster Weekend hosted the annual Westminster Mutt Show – a long-standing tradition in the community – on Sept. 21. 

The show brought in alums, students, faculty and of course pups to compete in four categories: Best Dog/Owner Look-Alike, Best Trick, Best Wag and Best School Spirit. 

Mutt Show judge and Westminster professor of biology Richard Chapman said he has come to the show every year, but this is his first time judging. 

“The dogs, they are so cute and it’s a lot of fun,” said Chapman, who is also the director of the Coaching and Mentoring Center. 

Chapman said he was looking at the cuteness, adorability, wag and Westminster spirit of each dog. Audience members also cheered on each dog for these traits, however, two current students had their hearts set on one pup taking home a prize. 

Cayla Martin, a first-year biology major, and Mary Sanchez, a senior pre-physical therapy major, said they were rooting for Roscoe – who didn’t end up taking home a prize. 

“Personally, I think Roscoe should have won the best wag,” Sanchez said. “But I am happy about Bonnie’s win.” 

Bre Empey, a communication alum and past Griffin’s women’s soccer player, and her pup Remi show off their tricks that won them first place in the Best Dog/Owner category at the Westminster Mutt Show. The Mutt Show is an annual tradition that encapsulates the dog-friendly culture at Westminster.
(Liz Dobbins)

Despite their disappointment, they both said they really enjoyed the show. 

“It’s awesome and it’s so cute,” Martin said.

Many contestants were first-timers, but Bonnie Baxter — dog mom to Mesa and Westminster professor of biology — has been competing for 20 years. 

“We have never won before,” Baxter said. “It feels like validation after all these years of competing and not coming in first. I think Mesa feel validated.”

Mesa won the category of best trick by showing her high five skills. 

“She’s like 12 and she learned [to high five] when she was a puppy,” Baxter said. “She has had many years of practice with my students. That’s one of the favorite things that my students like to do with her.”

Not all of the winners have had as much practice as Baxter and Mesa though. Rylee John, a junior elementary education major, was a new contestant and won the Best School Spirit category with her corgi, Ruben.

“This is our first time,” John said. “I saw the email and I was like, ‘Okay Ruben we are doing it. I went to the bookstore beforehand and got him a little shirt, got me some swag and we went for it. It turned out really fun.”

A “fun,” “exciting” and “cute” tradition, the 2019 Westminster Mutt Show connected students, alumni and faculty and celebrated a major part of the Westminster culture – dogs.


Best Look-Alike: Remi and Bre Empey (communication alum and women’s soccer player)

Best Trick: Mesa and Bonnie Baxter (professor of biology)

Best Wag: Sunny and Stephanie Tobey (MBA and undergraduate alum)

Best School Spirit: Ruben and Rylee John (junior elementary education major)


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Liz is a junior communication major at Westminster College, who can often be found sipping her over-priced coffee in Bassis. When not studying or working as an intern – three times over – she enjoys binge watching “Grey’s Anatomy,” for the fourth time, and taking morning runs in Sugar House Park. Liz hopes to someday make her way into the movie industry and become a puppy parent.

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