Birmingham News’ 2018 Cutest Pet Contest winners: Bella and Widget


Widget, left, and Bella pose in their humans’ ’78 Ford pickup truck – the winning photograph.

Last month, Cahaba Valley Animal Clinic partnered with the Birmingham News to bring you the 2018 Cutest Pet Contest – and boy, did our residents deliver!


Sylvia and Randy Harris with their dogs, Bella and Widget, collect their prize from CVAC.

While Cahaba Valley Animal Clinic was a sponsor with no voting rights, we loved seeing all the pets get their 15 minutes of local fame – especially those who belong to our clients. Selection of the winner was left to Birmingham News readers, and while the competition was stiff, readers ultimately selected Bella and Widget!

These two pocket-sized pups belong to Sylvia & Randy Harris. They are both rescues that the couple have had for a few years, and what makes them even more special is they sparked a passion for fostering and rescuing dogs in the Harrises – a passion that would lead them to help dozens of dogs over the next few years.


Bella poses with one of her prizes, a bag of Hill’s dog food.

Widget was surrendered to a shelter after his owner died. He was adopted by one family, but his new home was short-lived – he was returned a few days later. That’s when the Harrises found him and the rest is history! Not long after they adopted Widget, the Harrises adopted Bella, whose owner had become too old to take care of her.

Shortly after these two pups settled into their new home, the Harrises’ oldest son called his mom and asked her if she could help transport a rescue dog to a shelter – the original transport had fallen through.

“He told me, ‘It’s just two dogs, from Birmingham to Athens,’” Sylvia said. Filled with compassion for dogs, thanks to her newest furry family members, she said yes. “Next thing you know, I’m driving dogs seven days a week!”

Widget and sister Bella won the Cutest Pet Contest sponsored by Cahaba valley Animal Clinic and organized by the Birmingham News

Widget poses with one of his prizes, a bag of CVAC swag and gift certificates.

Soon, shelters were asking if she could watch dogs for a day or two before they were transported to a new shelter.

“And the house has had anywhere from one to 20 fosters in it since then – and that was two years ago!” Sylvia said. “We have really nice neighbors,” she said, laughing.

Now, Sylvia and Randy foster with a few different rescues: Rescue Hearts of Guntersville, Kristina’s Road to Rescue, and Georgia Doberman Rescue.

“Fostering is not hard,” she said. “It really doesn’t take up too much time. If you have just a few minutes to give love and attention every day, you’ve got time to foster.”


Widget and Bella pose with their prizes.

The couple now have eight dogs in their home – four permanents and four fosters.

“We wouldn’t trade the world for them,” Sylvia said. “They’re never just dogs, they’re our children. We’ve been given them to watch after, to take care of, to love, to socialize. They’re our children, and we treat them as such.”

Sylvia and Randy plan to continue fostering as many dogs as they can. One of their four fosters, a three-legged Doberman, is getting ready to go to his new home, and she has no doubt his place will be filled quickly.

“The best dog breed anyone can ever get? A rescue.”

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