Football Star and Proud Small Dog Owner A.J. Hawk Invites America to Vote for Its Favorite Big Guy, Small Dog Duo

Meet the 30 Finalists in the Mighty Dog® "Big Guy, Small Dog" Contest

Jun 23, 2011, 15:34 ET from Nestle Purina PetCare Company

ST. LOUIS, June 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Prissy, pampered, high maintenance and spoiled? Those are certainly not the most appropriate words to describe the hundreds of men across the country who recently entered themselves and their small dogs, or were entered by someone else, in the Mighty Dog® "Big Guy, Small Dog" Contest! Instead, adjectives like "adventurous," "loyal," "courageous," and "friend" filled the contest essays describing the Big Guys and their relationships with their pint-size pooches. Thanks to these brave Big Guys, Mighty Dog brand dog food is one Mighty® step closer to changing misperceptions about small dogs and the people who own them.

The Mighty Dog "Big Guy, Small Dog" contest searched the U.S. for "guy's guys" who are proud owners of small dogs weighing 20 pounds or less. Professional football champ, linebacker and small dog owner A.J. Hawk kicked off the contest by showcasing his special relationship with his four-pound Chihuahua named Todd.

"It's time to debunk the stereotypes about small dogs and the people who own them," said Hawk.  "I'm really happy to see that so many Big Guys stepped out of the shadows and proudly shared their relationships with their small dogs.  There's a reason we all love our small dogs so much – they have Mighty attitudes and make every day a fun-filled adventure."

Thirty finalists have been selected from the hundreds of entries by an outside judging panel, and now it is America's turn to vote to help select the 11 Grand Prize winners who may be featured in the 2012 Mighty Dog "Big Guy, Small Dog" calendar with A.J. and Todd.  To view the 30 finalist entries and vote for your favorite, go to The voting period runs from June 22 through July 6, 2011.

A.J. Hawk will also judge the 30 Finalist entries using the following judging criteria:

  • Appropriateness to contest theme (40%)
  • Quality of essay (35%)
  • Mighty personality (25%)

Hawk's judging will count for 80 percent of the final score and the consumer vote will count for 20 percent of the final score to select the winners.

Meet the Finalists

The 30 "Big Guy" finalists described why they selected a small dog as their pet companion, as well as how they share a Mighty life with their small dogs filled with fun and everyday adventures. From hiking up mountains to enjoying a weekend camping trip to taking their daily walk side-by-side, these daring, high-spirited and Mighty dogs and their owners defy the stereotypes. To view the full list of the 30 "Big Guy" finalists, go to

"We are proudly showing America why little dogs make perfect companions," said Hawk. "I'm thrilled to help select the Mightiest of the Mighty to star in the 'Big Guy, Small Dog' calendar with me and Todd, and I am asking dog lovers everywhere to cast their votes, too."

Star Treatment

Each Grand Prize winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a three-day, two-night trip to Los Angeles with their small dog companion to take part in a professional photo shoot. Each Grand Prize winner and their small dog may also have their photo featured in the 2012 Mighty Dog® "Big Guy, Small Dog" calendar.

The calendar will be available in limited edition print format and for free download on the Mighty Dog website in 2012. For every calendar download, the Mighty Dog brand will make a $1 donation (up to $10,000) to, a non-profit pet adoption charity.

Each of the 30 finalists will receive a one year supply of Mighty Dog® food for small dogs, which features a variety of meaty formulas that contain protein-packed nutrition to help support the nutritional needs of small dogs' active lifestyles.

For more information about the Mighty Dog® "Big Guy, Small Dog" Contest, visit

About Nestle Purina PetCare Company

The North American headquarters for Nestle Purina PetCare Company is located at Checkerboard Square in St. Louis, Missouri, where Ralston Purina was founded more than a century ago. Nestle Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, humane education, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. One of the leading global players in the pet food industry, Nestle Purina PetCare is part of the Swiss-based Nestle S.A. – the world's largest food company.

SOURCE Nestle Purina PetCare Company