Meet the dog who will reign over Piedmont Park for the next year

Out of the dozen dogs who competed at Piedmont Park's first Dog of the Year contest, a 2-year-old Doberman named Ponce emerged victorious.

Ponce was among the top submissions in a photo-based online contest, which culminated with a competition at the Midtown park on Saturday. The 12 pups were judged on behavior, charisma and friendliness towards other dogs.

Chris Beauregard said he and his wife, Jennifer, have taken Ponce to Piedmont Park nearly every day since she was a puppy.

The couple, who lives just outside the park’s gates, was taken aback by Ponce’s victory over “lots of incredible dogs,” Beauregard said. But he thinks judges saw her as a kind dog who “portrays the ambassador of Piedmont Park.”

Judges observed the canines sit, walk, engage in free-style and play among other dogs. For the free-style portion, Ponce spun around and jumped up to get a Frisbee at Beauregard’s direction.

They’ve had a lot of time to practice. Beauregard got Ponce from a breeder in Dublin, Georgia, when she was about 10 weeks old. The Virginia native’s sister raised Dobermans and he fell in love with the breed, despite the bad rap they sometimes get, he said.

Ponce will retain the Dog of the Year title for one year, starting Aug. 1. She will also become the park's "spokes-dog," serving as the mascot at events at its dog park.

The couple is proud of the local community award, but doesn’t plan on entering more contests anytime soon.

“She’s a hiking and Frisbee dog by heart, not a show dog,” Beauregard said. Still, he said Ponce is enjoying the hugs and attention  — while remaining “modest as always.”

The judges included Bridget Matheson from Dog Days Atlanta, Bryan Kolton from Bark ATL, Liz Rupp from Dancing Dogs Yoga Atlanta and Piedmont Park Conservancy’s Kalia Edmonds and Mark Nelson.

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See Ponce in action: