Ponce, a sleek, happy Doberman, is from show dog stock but that has nothing to do with why her owners entered her in the Piedmont Park Dog of the Year contest. It’s more that they love the park and wanted to support the Piedmont Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that manages and maintains the picturesque green space with the city of Atlanta. “The park is a central part of our life,” said Chris Beauregard, who lives in Midtown and walks Ponce in the park every morning. His wife, Jen, runs with the dog there in the evenings. And then of course, there are the three acres of dog parks. “That’s the place where Ponce can run free and socialize,” Beauregard says. More than 80 canines vied to be the park’s “spokes-dog” but it was Ponce who assumed the title on Aug. 1. “She has been intolerable ever since,” Beauregard laughed.
Q: How did Ponce get her name?
A: We named her after the street in Atlanta. Felt like a good Midtown name.
Q: Tell us about her.
A: She is a giant sweetheart. She is two years old and weighs 80 pounds. Her father’s name was The Beast and her mom’s name was Beauty so she is the offspring of Beauty and The Beast. We just lucked out and got this very beautiful, wonderful dog. Dobermans are a protection breed so they get loyalty and a desire to be trained by default. They are good watchdogs but also very good with children.
Q: A lot of people are afraid of Dobermans. Do people ever see Ponce coming and go out of their way to avoid her?
A: We have had people cross the street to get away from her. I think my wife takes it harder than I do. If you train them and treat them right, you get these wonderful dogs. When Jen and I were talking about the Dog of the Year competition, we thought that being a Doberman might go against Ponce. It was just awesome that the Conservancy embraced such a large breed. It helps erase some of that stigma in people’s eyes.
Q: Does Ponce compete a lot?
A: She has always been a Frisbee-catching and hiking dog for us and we never had any intentions of putting her on show. Representing the Piedmont Park Conservancy was just too good an opportunity to pass up. To enter the contest, you had to join the Conservancy, which gets you lots of perks and helps support the park.
Q: What was Ponce’s talent?
A: She sat, spun around and shook hands. We did a series of tricks with a Frisbee to show her dexterity.
Q: Was she nervous?
A: No, but I had butterflies. When we were training her, it was more about me learning how to throw a Frisbee well than her learning how to catch it. And there was some stiff competition. There was a sheepadoodle that was really gorgeous and another Frisbee dog that had hiked the Appalachian Trail with his owner. There were a handful of other smaller breeds that were really adorable.
Q: Were you surprised when Ponce won?
A: The look on my wife’s face when they announced the winner was very similar to her look when I proposed.
Q: So Ponce is the park’s “spokes-dog.” Have you taught her to speak yet?
A: Not yet. The Conservancy is going to organize a photo shoot and Ponce will be featured on park literature. She is exceptionally photogenic. During our wedding, our photographer fell in love with Ponce who is in some of our best wedding photos.
Q: Is it hard to live with Ponce now that she is a celebrity?
A: She is enjoying all of the attention. She already has an “only dog” complex and thinks the entire world revolves around her. That has only gotten worse. Not really. She is still just the same old sweet dog.
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