Cats! Dogs! Snake?
House Organ Pet Poll brings voters by the thousands
Duke, the European Doberman who was photographed lounging in his driveway by Wendy Ashe of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, was the royalty of the 2011 House Organ Pet Poll, which was conducted in conjunction with the annual “Pets of Vanderbilt” issue.
Duke ran away from the pack with 551 votes, the most for any nominee in any category, representing 23.8 percent of the total. Second place came from the other end of the canine size range, Lee Ann Jarrett from the School of Nursing’s Chihuahua named Chihuahua. Third place went to Lauren Hayes of Development and Alumni Relations for her wonderfully expressive big dog Neely.
The Cat winner was Tahoe, the extremely relaxed-looking gray tabby lauguidly sprawled on the armchair of Elizabeth Campos Pearce of Otolaryngology. Tahoe used his slinky feline charms to come in first place with 225 votes, or 18.4 percent of those cast. Runner up was Pheebee, the photogenic kitty of Danica Partin of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Third place went to Rocky, the pensive green-eyed companion of Suryakala Sarilla of Pathology.
In the Duo category, voters were taken with Porter and Millie, a little boy and little dog keeping an eye on each other, photographed by Janet L. Hardison of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia. The boy and dog received 271 votes, or 20.9 percent of those cast in the category. Second place went to another boy-and-dog photo, 4-year-old Will with Maggie the boxer, taken by Jackie Kolb of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Third place in the Duo category broke the stranglehold that mammalian pets have had on the contest, as boy Ayden poses with Rudy, the ball python, in the photo submitted by Scott Dupree of Dermatology.
More than 5,000 total votes poured into the House Organ website over the almost two weeks of voting. This was substantial growth over the 2,800 or so votes that were cast last year, and probably represents the ability of more people to hear about the contest via Facebook and other social media.
Participants were limited to one vote per computer, following the event from our first pet poll, three years ago, which some of my cruel co-workers never tire of bringing up. In that poll, I had decided that it would be great fun to set up the voting American Idol-style, with an unlimited number of votes allowed. This proved not to be a good decision on my part, in the sense that enthusiastic voters set up automated voting programs to pour support to their favorite candidates at such a rate that University computing services were threatened with overload.
Beagles were slugging it out with bulldogs, calicoes with tabbies, and smoke was pouring from University servers. We had to end the voting early, but even then in turned out that more votes were cast in the House Organ Pet Poll than either candidate received in the presidential election in Tennessee that year.
We learned, we changed, and the pet poll now can provide fun and amusement without endangering vital University services, always a worthy goal.
Thanks to those who submitted photos, thanks to those who had fun with the voting, and congratulations to the winners, who now have the only prize the poll offers: eternal bragging rights.