Alexandria has a new "Top Dog." He was introduced at the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association Annual Meeting.
His name is "Alex."
Well, at least that's his stage name. His real name is "Dasher" or "Mac." And, his owner is Steve Womack or Barbara Baxter. It all depends on which dog is stage right or stage left, in what setting, at which location, at what time, on which day.
It can get pretty confusing. But, it's all in a dog's work. And, it's all for a good cause — selling Alexandria, the city, by Alex, the dog.
Alex, who is actually Dasher or Mac, will be seen on ACVA's Web site, on Metrobuses, and in retail stores and restaurants throughout the city as the holiday season approaches. "He will be the center of our holiday season advertising program," said Laura Overstreet, vice president, ACVA Communications.
"There will be shopping promotions, decorating contests, and even a "Find Alex" contest," she said.
"ALEX" IS A SCOTTISH Terrier who donned a tartan tam and, along with his owner Womack, a retired U.S. Navy captain and Alexandria native, made his first formal appearance last Thursday at the Old Town Radisson Hotel. His look-a-like, a stuffed toy, will go on sale throughout the city's retail shops in early November.
Both, Dasher and Mac, came to their owners from the Scottish Terrier Rescue of the Greater Washington Region. Both Womack and Baxter are longtime fans of scotties who had their previous dogs die. And, both got their new dogs by applying to the Rescue via the internet.
"Dasher's previous owner had given him to the rescue service because she said he was too rambunctious and barked too much. But, she lived in a condo and worked all day. He was left home in a cage and when he was let out in the evening, I guess he did go a little wild. He was just the wrong dog for that location," Womack said.
"I named him Dasher because I'm a Christmas nut. My previous terrier was named Comet. She died in early December of 2003," he said.
"In early August, ACVA called the rescue service wanting to know about people that had scotties they could use in an advertising campaign. It was to be ‘Alexandria through the eyes of a scottie’," Womack said.
"One of the reasons we chose these particular dogs is because they are rescue dogs. Dogs taken out of a bad situation and given a chance at a better and more happy life," said Steven B. Zimmerman, manager, ACVA Communications.
Baxter's three-year-old scottie Mac came to her, and her husband Paul Will, through the rescue service two years ago as an eight-week-old pup. She also had completed a Web site application and was interviewed prior to being accepted as the new owner of Mac.
"We have another older scottie named Fiona which we got through the Alexandria Animal Shelter. She's now about six years old but she won't be used in the publicity. She didn't take to wearing the little hat," Baxter said.
"By contrast, Mac loved being the center of attention," said Baxter, who works for the National Park Service. "But, they're both really spoiled. We buy them special food and toys all the time."
WHEN MAC arrived at their home all his hair had been cut way back. "He didn't have those scottie eyebrows or beard. But, he was sure full of life," she said.
In August ACVA had a series of photos taken of both dogs with their owners and in various venues. These will be appearing as part of the City's publicity campaign for the holiday shopping season.
One of those shots is of Dasher peering into a restaurant window as a customer has lunch. "That was a real chore to get him to stand up and put his paws on the window sill. To entice him they put peanut butter on the glass but this only held his attention for a short time," Womack said.
"Then he just sat there and looked at the customer. That's when they sent someone to get a hamburger and put that on the inside ledge. That got his attention," he said.
So when shopping in Alexandria this holiday season just remember, "It's All About Alex." Or Dasher, or Mac, or whichever is wearing the tartan tam that day.
"Even a dog is entitled to his stage name, to keep his privacy intact," Womack said.