Sunday, November 23, 2014 · 10:51 p.m.
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Looking for a chance to leave your mark on Chattanooga? Cast your entry for the Choo Choo Dog Camp pooch. (Photo: Staff)

The pooch standing proudly in front of Choo Choo Dog Camp is in need of a name.

Liz Fortanier, owner of the dog kennel, is hosting a naming contest to benefit local canine-oriented causes, as well as a YouTube video contest in which locals can shoot their own video featuring the statue.

Fortanier first discovered the large French bulldog during a visit to her mother in her native Holland. She scoured the Internet for something similar stateside, but came up empty-handed. 

Finally, she resolved to purchase an original from the Dutch company and have it shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. A client built its pedestal, ensuring a better view from the intersection of West 20th Street and South Market Street.

Since traveling from the Old World, the un-monikered mascot has attracted attention from dog lovers and curious passersby alike.

“At least three people stop every day to take a picture with the dog,” Fortanier said. “It’s just fun, whether you have a dog or know someone with a dog.”

She has always referred to the nearly 6-foot-tall pooch as "the Master," the calm and steady presence overseeing the daily going-ons at Choo Choo Dog Camp. Ultimately, Fortanier said she would love to see the statue to grow into not only the face of the business, but also a recognizable icon for Chattanooga.

The naming contest opened yesterday, Nov. 15, and will run until Dec. 15. Each entry costs $1 and will go toward the general donation to the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga, Wally’s Friends and DOGood for a Dog Friendly Chattanooga. Entries should be male or non-gender specific names.

Representative from the three organizations—Guy Bilyeu, Eileen Price and Karen Roach—in addition to Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham and City Councilman Andrae McGary, will choose the winner and make the public announcement at the Choo Choo Dog Camp open house on Dec. 15 from 2 to 5 p.m.

The winning YouTube video, whose link must be emailed to Fortanier at liz@choochoodogcamp.com, will be determined based on the number of “likes” it receives from YouTube viewers. 

At the conclusion of the contest, the pooch’s new name and the name of the Chattanoogan who originated the moniker will be immortalized in a plaque set on the pedestal.

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