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Former Animal Shelter Pup Voted People’s ‘Cutest Rescue Dog’

All rescue dog parents believe their dogs to be the cutest in existence, but a California family can officially now say that after People named their 5-year-old Terrier-mix, Hobie, the “Cutest Rescue Dog” following a nationwide contest and vote.

Christin Bernhardt, a Coto de Caza resident who adopted Hobie from the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter with her husband in 2022, shared news of the contest with her colleagues. As reported by the LA Times, she stated, “They went all out, and the city of Laguna Beach put him on social media — he was on Instagram and Twitter. They made it happen for Hobie, I’m really convinced of that.”

The victory not only brings nationwide acclaim but also comes with a $1,000 donation to a non-profit selected by the winning family. In addition, the prize includes a year’s worth of Pedigree dog food. More importantly, though, this win marks yet another bright chapter in Hobie’s extraordinary rags-to-riches journey.

Hobie’s journey from Tijuana streets to Laguna Beach shelter

The story started the previous year on Tijuana’s streets where rescuers discovered the dog rummaging for food at a taco stand, much to the annoyance of the stand owner who flung food at him in an attempt to shoo him away.

An anonymous Laguna Beach local ensured the dog’s secure rescue and transfer to a Laguna Beach shelter. This resident routinely delivers supplies to the border and collaborates with assisting teams and foster families in the area to attend to abandoned animals — as per Taylor Dunaway, the shelter’s animal care expert.

The Terrier — named Toby — arrived in March 2022 and quickly adapted to his new surroundings at the facility, managed by the Laguna Beach Police Department.

However, Toby’s story had an unexpected turn of events. “Maybe two or three days after we got him, there were indications something was wrong,” Dunaway said. Toby had previously suffered from glaucoma, but his condition worsened when his eye lens ruptured completely. This led to the unfortunate removal of his eye.

The adoption and contest victory of People’s ‘Cutest Rescue Dog’

While browsing the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter website in search of a companion for their then-14-year-old Cairn Terrier Zoe, Bernhardt and Riemer stumbled upon the one-eyed dog.

They frequently visited him, seeing him almost every day for several weeks. What’s more, they brought along Zoe to acquaint Toby with the family before he moved into his new home. Upon adoption, they decided to rename him Hobie — after a local surfwear shop in Laguna Beach.

Nowadays, the Terrier fits perfectly into his environment, making frequent visits to Main Beach in Laguna and returning to the shelter where he befriended the staff and resident rabbit, Hazel. While Hobie is already living a great life, winning the “Cutest Rescue Dog” contest just made things even better.

People announced that Hobie’s spirited charm helped him to victory against “8,000 other furry contestants.” Additionally, his captivating charisma stole the heart of celebrity judge and country music star Miranda Lambert. Lambert actively promotes the adoption of rescued pets through her MuttNation Foundation.

Once the competition results were publicly disclosed on Oct. 20, the triumphant Orange County canine briefly visited the Universal Studios lot. There, he featured in a segment with “Access Hollywood” presenters, Kit Hoover and Mario Lopez.

Riemer and Bernhardt intend to contribute Hobie’s $1,000 award to Pup Laguna Beach, the shelter’s non-profit fundraising branch that facilitates the ongoing care and treatment of animals.

Dunaway expressed her hope that the contest’s news — which represents a victory for shelter dogs — could make people more aware of the happiness that animal rescue can bring.

“Hopefully this will help deter people from going to breeders,” she said. “There are plenty of adoptable dogs at the shelter.”

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