When it comes to the candidates in the first-ever StyleBlueprint/Hollywood Feed Best Dog Mid-South Contest, we can all agree that each of our 10 finalists was worthy of a vote. Their stories coupled with their cute furry faces captured the hearts of our readers, and we’re not ashamed at all to say a few of us here at SB had to get out the Kleenex when writing up their profiles.
Seventy-five dogs and their owners entered the contest, and more than 2,000 votes were cast from October 19-26. The top four dogs with the most votes were Nila with 403 votes, Savior with 383, Froggy with 314 and Willie with 237.
Even with 1,024 followers on Nila’s Instagram account, her owner, Stephanie Comb, says she’s still somewhat surprised that Nila was the winner of the contest. “Of course we think she’s the greatest dog ever, but we weren’t sure if we’d do well in a town where we don’t know many people,” says Stephanie.
Stephanie works at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as the Molecular Microbiology/Virology Laboratory Supervisor. Nila, as far as she knows, is a pure-bred mini Australian shepherd given to her by her parents, who were fostering an already-sick dog and couldn’t take on another sick dog. The runt of her litter, Nila had kennel cough and other respiratory problems, and was dehydrated and underweight, according to Stephanie. “She was given a less than a 50% chance of survival, and I was told to not get too attached. She slept pretty much 24 hours a day for the first week, and I did everything possible to keep her hydrated, well fed and medicated,” says Stephanie. “There were a lot of sleepless nights comforting her through breathing attacks and coughing fits. Finally, she started to perk up and become the loving, high-spirited, beautiful pup she is today. She beat the odds!”
Nila turned 5 years old in May, and while Stephanie says she still has occasional breathing problems, her personality is loving and funny. “She is always in a silly pose or herding geese (or us or her tennis balls). She’s quite adventurous and shows no fear of trying new things and meeting new dogs.”
Nila moved with Stephanie to New Orleans while she pursued her Ph.D. in the summer of 2013, where, Stephanie says, she “could often be seen walking the French Quarter in her sparkly hat and matching tutu! When my first husband filed for divorce while I was in school, Nila and I had to move again so that I could get a job to support us. Once again I packed all my belongings and her into my little car, and we moved off to Reno, Nevada.”
Within a year, Stephanie and Nila were on the move again — this time with her current husband, Andrew. The trio moved to Portland and finally Memphis. “She has traveled to almost every state in the country, is a truly well-behaved traveler and adjusts to our new homes perfectly every time,” says Stephanie.
When Stephanie became pregnant earlier this year, Nila posed for the baby announcement photo. Sadly, Stephanie suffered a miscarriage, but Nila was there to comfort her and Andrew. “Depressed doesn’t even begin to describe how sad we were. Nila was our rock though,” says Stephanie. “She kissed our tears away and brought us her most beloved toys to share. She even would sit with us for hours in the nursery, when I knew she’d much rather be outside playing. She knew we needed her as much as she had needed us when she was a sick pup.”
Stephanie says Nila is more than just their treasured dog, she’s a daily reminder to never give up, no matter the odds. “My husband and I are both nerdy introverts, but she brings us out of our shell,” says Stephanie. “She makes us smile, and everywhere she goes, she spreads that happiness through her big smile, adorable face, outgoing personality and over-the-top outfits. She is a super cuddler, a diva, an Instagram model and the best dog we’ve ever had!”
Congratulations to Nila and Stephanie, who will enjoy a year of free dog food from Hollywood Feed! And, our thanks to all of our dog contest entrants, finalists and voters for making the first-ever StyleBlueprint/Hollywood Feed Best Dog Mid-South Contest a HUGE success!
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