Fun-loving Havanese wins Lucas County 'Pick of the Litter' contest

‘Masi’ will grace tag renewal forms

Maserati, a Havanese, is this year’s ‘Pick of the Litter’ winner.
Maserati, a Havanese, is this year’s ‘Pick of the Litter’ winner.

Maserati Elsworth got a brand-new spring haircut on Monday.

The updated style came in handy Wednesday, when the Havanese was named the winner of the Lucas County Auditor’s “Pick of the Litter Essay Contest.”

But his celebrity status hadn’t sunk in yet, when he arrived Wednesday afternoon at Government Center to accept his awards.

“I told him,” said his owner, Toledo resident Jennifer Elsworth. “I don’t know if it’s registered.”

Maserati, who usually goes by Masi, will have a whole year of fame. He will be featured on all 2014 dog-tag renewal forms. In her winning essay, Ms. Elsworth described her dog as one who likes to help sort laundry, sleep with his feet straight up in the air, and engage in solo games of fetch.

Ms. Elsworth adopted the dog almost a year ago from the Ohio Small Dog Rescue, after finding him on He is estimated to be between 3 and 5 years of age, and was brought into the rescue with a terrible ear infection and matted and stained fur, his owner said.

Ms. Elsworth is also the owner of two other dogs: A “pit bull” named Hamilton adopted from the Toledo Area Humane Society and another Havanese, Diesel, adopted from the Ohio Small Dog Rescue.

But after joining the Elsworth household, Masi’s true, fun-loving, and rambunctious personality was finally able to shine.

“He has a habit of going into areas of the yard ... ,” she said of Masi and her other Havanese. “They’ll end up with burrs stuck on. They’re really a pain to try to get out.”

Even though he’s an outdoors-loving dog, Masi doesn’t like deer and he has a consistent bark.

“He’s the first one to bark when someone comes in the driveway,” she said.

Underneath his sometimes-tough bark, however, is sweetness and love — displayed when he showered Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez with kisses when she picked him up.

“He’s so beautiful and taken care of,” Ms. Lopez said. “He is well -behaved, too.”

The contest, in its sixth year, is sponsored by the auditor’s office and aims at raising awareness of the county’s dog-tag program. Ohio law requires residents to buy annual licenses for dogs three months and older. Each license costs $25.

Julie Lyle, Lucas County dog warden, said having a tag is an essential part of making sure a lost dog returns home.

“The biggest thing is that the dog is identifiable,” she said. About 66,000 of dogs in the county are licensed at any given time, she said, and added, “It allows us to go out and help.”

When licensed dogs are brought in, they are held by the dog warden for 14 days, which is 11 days longer than they would be held if they did not have tags.

“We’re able to put in a lot of extra effort to get them reunited. They’re wearing a license, they get more vet care ... they get a free ride back home,” Ms. Lyle said.

Ms. Elsworth and Masi received a gift basket from Total Pet Care, as well as a tag that marks him as the No. 1 dog, and a $25 refund for his 2013 dog license.

It’s his quirky habits that make him so endearing, Ms. Elsworth wrote in her essay.

“The scrawny little white dog who has blossomed into a white fluff ball is a true member of our family,” she wrote. “Whether he’s on the end of a leash walking a local trail, sitting around the campfire, or guarding the yard by barking to scare all the white-tailed deer away, Maserati never ceases to make us smile.”

As Ms. Elsworth held him while he remained still for photographs, it was clear the dog holds a special place in his owner’s heart.

“He’s not a big treat eater. He plays fetch with himself. He’s not like our other dogs,” she said.

Contact Kelly McLendon at:, 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.