Who’s the cutest at Congregation Beth Emeth?

Rankin. Photo by Michael Aarons

At only 10, Rankin has his own Facebook page. And he’s met a slew of recording artists.

But what he really enjoys is tearing downspouts off the house and dragging them around the yard.

No word yet on how the mixed breed feels about the news that he won Congregation Beth Emeth’s Cutest Pet Contest.

The contest raised $3,000 for the Conservative congregation in Herndon. All pets and animal companions were welcome to enter with a $10 fee to upload the pet’s picture. Each vote cost $5. The prize for the winning animal was a photo session with professional photographer and congregant Ashley Brody.


“The bottom line is people will always spend money on their pets. They love their pets, right?” said Robyn Feuerberg, a member of the fundraising committee.

There were 30 competing pets — dogs, birds, fish. There was even a pet rock.

It was not long before two pets soared ahead in the competition, Rankin and a tropical fish named Mr. Fish.

“People started voting for Mr. Fish all over the place,” Feuerberg said. Rankin’s owner, Michael Aarons, “said there was no way his dog was going to lose to a fish,” she continued. “It became this real competition going back and forth, where it was the fish in the lead, then it was the dog in the lead, then it was the fish, and it just was really fun.”

Before the contest ended, Congregation Beth Emeth hosted a Pet Shabbat where the pets received a blessing and last-minute voting was encouraged.

On March 26, it was official. Rankin, the dog who refuses to play fetch, was the congregation’s cutest pet. He received 183 votes, 20 more than Mr. Fish.

Aarons said that Rankin was a standout even when the two met at the animal shelter. “It was obvious that he was definitely the alpha of the litter,” Aarons said.

Aarons had just bought a camera. Rankin became his model.

“I’d never really done photography before, and started taking pictures of the dog because he was the only one who would tolerate it.”There are so many pictures of Rankin that Aarons decided to let another pet have the photo shoot prize.

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