Our Top Dog Contest Winner

Meet nine-year-old Diego Munchkin Diaz of Point Pleasant, winner of our Top Dog Contest.

Three cheers for Diego Munchkin Diaz, winner of New Jersey Monthly’s first Top Dog Contest, sponsored by Unique Photo. An expert panel of judges chose Diego as Top Dog from among 10 finalists in the six-week online competition.

Diego is a 9-year-old cocker spaniel mix and certified therapy dog. In 2009, Diego’s owners, Charlotte Aylor-Diaz and Dan Diaz, rescued him from an Alabama shelter and brought him to his new home in Point Pleasant. “I was so happy to see so many other dogs in the contest who were rescues, too,” says Aylor-Diaz.

After he was rescued, it was discovered that Diego was missing part of his diaphragm, a congenital defect that required surgery to correct. Diego is now the Therapy Dog Ambassador for Caregiver Canines, a therapy dog visitation program for homebound seniors, and is dressed in his ambassador outfit in the winning photo. Diego also loves to visit children and adults of all ages at various schools, libraries and health care facilities in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“He makes such a wonderful therapy dog because he’s been through health issues of his own,” says Aylor-Diaz. “He’s a dog I can take anywhere.”

More than 240 dogs were entered in the competition throughout November, and more than 26,000 votes were cast on our website from December 1-15. Diego reached the top 10 and our final round after receiving more than 1,000 votes in the public voting.

As winner, Diego will be professionally photographed, and will appear with a full-page photo and bio in the April 2018 issue of New Jersey Monthly. And he gets to tell all his four-legged buddies that he’s the champ!

Diego can thank our expert panel for his new title. The judges awarded points to each dog based on five criteria: appeal of the dog, pose, photo quality, composition and originality. Diego earned a perfect 25 points from two of the judges and a winning total of 97 points out of a possible 125.

This year’s judges were Debora Montgomery, marketing manager, Morris Animal Inn, Morristown; Steven E. Parker, founder, chairman and CEO of K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel with six locations in New Jersey; pet artist Pamela D. Barba; photographer Sonya Kolb of Good Doggy Photography in Holmdel; and photographer Shaina Fishman.

All dogs entered in the competition received a faux New Jersey Monthly Top Dog cover with their name and image. The dogs’ photos also are on display in our Top Dog gallery. New Jersey Monthly donated 10 percent of each entry fee to Home for Good Dog Rescue.

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  1. Lynette Kittner Whiteman

    Congratulations to Diego and thank you to the judges for making such a wonderful choice! Diego was the first therapy dog matched with Caregiver Canines and he has brought joy to so many people along the way. We are so proud of our Munchkin! Lynette Whiteman

  2. Carol Bardo

    Congratulations to Diego! You are so deserving of this award for your many years of working as a Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dog. You have brought so much happiness to so many people.

  3. Charlotte Aylor-Diaz

    I’m just so proud of my little man, Diego. He is truly an exceptional therapy dog and loyal companion to his family members, human, canine and feline!

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