Every year, Independent Journal Review showcases the cutest dogs in our nation’s capital.
This year, more than 30,000 people went to the polls to select their favorite pup out of the 25 submissions IJR received from lawmakers, Capitol Hill staffers, reporters, think tanks, and other proud beltway dog owners.
From making campaign stops all over the U.S. Senate to securing key bipartisan endorsements, contenders made sure the competition was tight.
And why wouldn’t it be? The winning dog would be crowned the Cutest Dog on Capitol Hill, take home the renowned golden water bowl, and earn bragging rights for the entire year.
Now, the votes are in. Meet this year’s top 25 Cutest Dogs on the Hill:
Lucy Lawless Gebeck is a 1-year-old corgi/basset beagle mix. She was adopted from Lucky Dog Rescue by Kayla Gebeck, public affairs adviser for Holland & Knight LLP.
Walker is a 1-year-old boxer/German shepherd mix. He belongs to John Martin, the principal associate commissioner for legislative affairs at the Food and Drug Administration. Walker was named after the 43rd U.S. president, George Walker Bush.
Brady is a 2-year-old Brittany spaniel. She was named after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. She has a ton of energy, and rarely sits still. Brady belongs to Elizabeth Fusick, communications director for Rep. Ron DeSantis.
Daisy was adopted at the Capitol in February when the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals held its fifth annual “Paws for Love” adoption event on Valentine’s Day. She belongs to Catherine Knowles of Rep. Susan Brooks’s office.
Sophie is a Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix. Her owners, Rep. Tom Garrett and family, have a special fondness for the pup. She was even a flower girl in the congressman’s wedding. Sophie comes to the D.C. office every other day.
Sometimes Sophie complicates business — (“She had to leave the office once because the ambassador to Qatar was allergic,” Garrett’s wife told IJR) — but she’s a favorite among constituents.
Milly is a 3-year-old basset beagle and daschund mix. Her owner is Courtney Temple, legislative director for Sen. Thom Tillis. “Milly is a vivid dreamer and often barks in her sleep,” Temple told IJR.
Ziggy is a beagle and cattle dog mix. She belongs to Erynn Hook, senior legislative assistant for Rep. Chris Collins. “I actually got her on Craigslist,” Hook told IJR.
Teddy is a Portuguese water dog, the same breed as former President Barack Obama’s famous dogs. Teddy belongs to Paul Tencher, chief of staff for Sen. Ed Markey. Teddy usually comes into the office on Fridays and during recess weeks.
Desmond is a 4-year-old golden retriever. He belongs to Lily Monfort, an attorney for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
“He’ll do just about anything for a little bit of string cheese,” Monfort told IJR.
Otis is a beagle belonging to Nick Stewart, legislative director for Rep. Claudia Tenney. Otis came from World Dog Rescue. At first, Otis was supposed to be a temporary foster dog, but Stewart ended up falling head over heels for the pup, and decided to keep him — “it was a foster fail.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or “Ruthie” is a 1-year-old beagle/German shepherd mix. Her owner, Ashley Alman, is the social media editor for politics at Huffington Post. Ruthie was adopted through City Dogs Rescue. Ruthie spends a lot of her time in local dog parks.
Navi is a 6-year-old corgi/hound rescue pup. She belongs to Jared Rizzi, White House correspondent for Sirius XM Radio. Navi is a very good dog — not only is she very well-behaved, but she can also balance a marshmallow on her head.
“The humane shelter told us she was the most food-motivated dog they’d ever met,” Rizzi told IJR.
Charlie is a 3-year-old corgi. Charlie’s owner is Daniel Keylin, communications director for Sen. Thom Tillis. Charlie can be a little wild.
“During a recent visit to the Senate, Charlie roamed into the senator’s office, jumped on his coffee table, and attempted to gnaw at the senator’s prized stuffed duck,” Keylin told IJR. “Fortunately, the stuffed duck was swiftly removed from the table and was not harmed.”
Howitzer, or “Howie,” is a black Labrador puppy. Howie belongs to Lila Nieves-Lee, and spends a lot of time in various offices around the Capitol. Howie likes to roll in grass and eat mulch. “[Rep.] Ted Yoho gave Howie his first vet checkup,” Nieves-Lee told IJR.
Rocco is a 7-year-old Shitzu who likes to swim. Rocco has “one of the most charmed lives around,” thanks to his dedicated owner, Joe Hack, chief of staff for Sen. Deb Fischer.
Rocco was once baptized — “Heaven’s not worth going to if dogs aren’t there,” Hack explained. “He also sleeps 18 hours a day. He’s very low energy. That’s why we got him.”
The Top 10
Reilly is a 3-year-old golden retriever. Reilly won IJR’s first Cutest Dogs on the Hill competition in 2015. He belongs to Rep. Lou Barletta, who brings him into the office every day.
“He’s such a ham,” Barletta remarked as Reilly posed for IJR’s photographer. Reilly is a favorite among Barletta’s constituents.
Riggins is a 2-year-old Welsh terrier who loves to play fetch and was cute enough to end his office’s ban on dogs. He belongs to Joanna Rodriguez, communications director for Rep Carlos Curbelo.
(Look! At! His! Bow! Tie!)
Maddie is a 2-year-old silver Labrador. She belongs to Nicole Tieman, communications director for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.
Maddie knows some tricks: She likes to salute Capitol security guards because they give her treats. Maddie spends her days in the office sleeping under her owner’s desk.
Hank is a 4-year-old golden retriever. He belongs to Garrett Durst, legislative director for Rep. John Garamendi.
Hank loves his basketball toy a lot. He also likes to wag his tail.
“Hank was a farm dog prior to moving to Washington,” Durst told IJR. “There was a little bit of adjustment period as he had to get used to being in a office compared to running around with total freedom through grain fields and pestering my dad’s cattle.”
Nola is a 7-year-old French bulldog. She belongs to Cesar Gonzalez, chief of staff for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
When IJR asked how often Nola is in the office, one staffer joked, “too often.” Nola is named after the city of New Orleans, home of Tulane University, where her owner attended college. Nola likes to eat plastic water bottles.
The Top Five
Meet our top five dogs, complete with expert commentary from the one and only Matt Nelson (otherwise known as “The Dogfather”) of WeRateDogs.
Todd is a Siberian husky, Pekingese, and miniature daschund mix. He belongs to Bernadette Green, communications director for Rep. Glenn Grothman. Todd has been a regular in the office since the start of 2016.
WeRateDogs: “Say hello to Todd. He can hear a caterpillar hiccup from nine miles away. Great boy status achieved. 12/10.”
Todd has a following on the Hill, gets stopped for pats from staffers regularly, and made a cameo on Showtime’s “The Circus” this spring. Todd also has his own business cards — not paid for by taxpayer dollars, of course.
Fred is a goldendoodle puppy. He belongs to Sen. Deb Fischer. At just about 8 months old, Fred is often described as “very active.”
WeRateDogs: “This is Fred. It looks like he’s watching his resume be analyzed by a potential employer. 11/10 deep breaths doggo.”
Fred is well-known in the hallways of the Senate, and rose to fame after meeting Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch before his confirmation in February. Fred is in the office almost every day.
“He’s very involved with constituent services,” Fischer told IJR.
Tilly is a Boston terrier puppy. She belongs to Lexie Hosier, digital director for Sen. Thom Tillis.
WeRateDogs: “Meet Tilly. The inside of her ears match her collar which matches her tongue. Also we’re witnessing her tongue try to escape. 12/10 would pat passionately.”
Tilly has a penchant for peeing in the senator’s office, according to her owner, but she is still loved all over the Senate side of the Capitol. Sen. Tillis adores the puppy, and carries her around to show her off on occasion.
“If it were up to the senator, I’d bring her every day,” Hosier told IJR.
Sherlock is a 2-year-old goldendoodle who can definitely pull off a bow tie. He belongs to Kim Brandt, chief oversight counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.
WeRateDogs: “This is Sherlock. Last name Bones (hopefully). Tied that bow tie himself. Really brings out the curls. 13/10 snazzy as h*ck.”
Sherlock is full of energy, and is loved on both sides of the aisle.
Sherlock was thrilled to take pictures in the Senate Finance Committee hearing room. He had a good time standing on the desk (much to the anxiety of his keepers).
When Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch saw photos of Sherlock on the table, his verbatim response was, “There have been worse things on this dais.”
Koji is a 2-year-old American Eskimo. He belongs to Zach Hunter, communications director for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Mallory Hunter, special assistant to the president and assistant to the White House chief of staff.
WeRateDogs: “Say hello to Koji. Our “Cutest” Dog on the Hill (even though they all actually tied). His mother was a cloud and his father was a marshmallow. 14/10 would snug softly.”
Koji was named after Hunter’s friend, an Olympic gold medalist hammer-thrower, Koji Murofushi. Koji (the athlete) and Hunter trained together in Athens, Georgia, when Hunter was on his college track team.
Koji likes to wag his tail and make people smile, and is an extremely worthy recipient of IJR’s Cutest Dog on Capitol Hill.
IJR would like to thank everyone who competed in this year’s contest. We certainly enjoyed meeting your very good dogs, and we hope to get a chance to pet them again next year!
We’d also like to thank everyone who made their voice heard by voting in this election — we know it was tough to pick just one favorite dog.
Congratulations to Koji and all the other dogs who made the list! We can say this with 100 percent certainty: They’re all good dogs.