Rocky: The New Champion


Rocky with human siblings, Luke and Molly.

Much like the title character in the  film of the same name, Rocky is just a small-time sheepadoodle, trying to make it big in the ruthless world of competitive pet cuteness. When the chance finally came to take on Lebo’s heavyweight cuteness contenders in Mt. Lebanon Magazine’s 2021 Cutest Pet Contest, he knew that this was his shot at the big time.

In the first round of the contest, which celebrated its fifth year on Mt. Lebanon Municipality’s Facebook page last fall, Rocky went up against 118 adorable animals, including 97 dogs, 20 cats and one rabbit. Though he entered the contest as an upstart, he emerged victorious, with 52 votes, and advanced to the second round, where he took on 13 other dogs and one very fluffy feline. He rolled with the punches and was once again declared the victor, with 227 votes. *Cue the montage as Rocky trains harder than ever to achieve champion cuteness.*

During Round 3, the main event, the top three opponents went toe to toe (to toe). Cosmo, the cat who was the underdog, threw in the towel after earning 249 cumulative votes, but he walked away knowing he made Mt. Lebanon Magazine Pet Contest history as the first feline to make it to the third round. The final matchup, a fight between doodles, pitted Rocky against Ruby, the heavy-hitting goldendoodle. They went the distance, but in the end, Ruby could not contend with Rocky’s sheepadoodle smile. Ruby earned 354 cumulative votes and Rocky finished with 498.

Rocky took home the glory! But his hard work and dedication were not the only factor in his success. In his corner was his loving family—his human parents, Megan and Jeff Baltruzak, and his human siblings, Molly and Luke. They live on Crestvue Manor Drive in a home that Megan’s grandparents built, which has been passed down through three generations. Molly and Luke are in fifth and second grade at Markham Elementary School, respectively.

“Rocky is the third-generation dog to live in this house!,” Megan said. “My grandparents had a miniature schnauzer here, I had a mini schnauzer also growing up here and now my kids have a not-so-mini sheepadoodle.”

“He was supposed to be 20 to 30 pounds I think, and he’s like 50 … he weighs as much as we do,” said Molly, motioning toward Luke.

What’s next for Rocky? His humans are looking into training him to be a therapy dog, but in the meantime, he’s working on his New Years’ resolution: “To chase more squirrels,” Molly said.

Thanks to Dean’s Car Wash for their sponsorship.

Photos by George Mendel