A Bland County dog is leading the pack in the national Wahl Dirty Dogs competition. Online voters have until Monday to keep Arlo, a Lhasa Apso/Schnauzer mix, at the top of the competition, a place he has held all week. By Friday afternoon, he had garnered nearly 15,000 votes.

It’s been a wild few months for 10-year-old Arlo. In April, he was found matted and filthy along a roadside in Smyth County and taken to the Smyth County Animal Shelter. After groomers at the Smyth County Animal Hospital cleaned him up, Sarah Dutton at Lost Fantasy Rescue in Ceres took him in.

“He was all matted and nasty and disgusting,” Dutton said. “I’m surprised he didn’t have more skin issues than he did because he was matted down to his hide because he was so uncared for. It could have been years since he was groomed. I think he was in somebody’s backyard, and I think they decided they didn’t want him anymore and let him loose.”

Jump ahead four months and Arlo is living the high life with his foster mom, a hospice doctor in Northern Virginia.

“He has his own masseuse,” Dutton said. “Because he has some arthritis, she takes him to therapy to try to get him to walk a little better.”

In addition to arthritis, Arlo has some vision and hearing problems. But none of that keeps him down.

“He is a happy little fuzzy dog that just likes to wander around the backyard and sniff and sleep on the bathroom floor,” said Dutton, who was surprised when she learned Arlo was in the Dirty Dogs contest’s top 10.

“I had forgotten I entered him until I got an email that said congratulations,” she said.

Wahl, the contest sponsor, offers a wide variety of grooming supplies and products for pets and people. The brainchild of Wahl and GreaterGood.org, the Dirty Dogs Contest, now in its eighth year, donates funds and grooming supplies to rescues and shelters nationwide so thousands of dogs can be cleaned up to increase their chances of being adopted.

Hundreds of incredible makeovers, including Arlo’s, have been captured through the Dirty Dogs Before & After Photo Gallery at www.dirtydogsgallery.com. Online visitors can see what each dog looked like when it arrived at the shelter or rescue, and how it transformed once it was cleaned up. The site also allows visitors to search for adoptable dogs in their area, learn more about the dogs’ backgrounds and stories and share their favorites on social media.

Ten of the most dramatic transformations from the gallery, including Arlo’s, were selected to participate in the Dirty Dogs contest. Public votes will determine the top three winners. The animal shelters and rescue groups affiliated with top three transformations will receive money to support their efforts. First place takes home $5,000, second place receives $2,000 and third place earns $1,000.

Dutton said if Arlo places in the contest, the money will be used for Lost Fantasy Rescue’s spay/neuter program.

The Dirty Dogs Contest runs from Aug. 6-19. To vote for Arlo, visit DirtyDogsContest.com. You can vote once every 24 hours.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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