By Amanda Flitter
If you stop by Tony Tally's Auto Sales on Washington Street today, make sure to give Madison B., the black pug that regularly greets customers, a good scratch behind the ears.
While she may seem ordinary, she is actually the luckiest dog in town, and some of her newfound good luck might just rub off on you.
Madison B. won the $10,000 grand prize in the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce's $25,000 Game raffle, much to the surprise of the 150 people gathered at the Gloucester House on Sept. 25 for the drawing. She is the first dog ever to win the top prize.
"What can you say," said Bill Scott, who assisted with the drawing. "That's one lucky dog."
Tony Taliadoros, who was a chairman of the raffle, had sold all but one of his 50 tickets when he came up with the idea to enter Madison B., the dog of his son's fiance. A woman had reserved the final ticket, but she ultimately decided not to buy it.
Taliadoros bought the last ticket, but did not want to put his name on it since he was a chairman. As he was thinking of who to enter instead, he saw Madison B. and entered her name on a whim, assuming she wouldn't win.
"He was really just doing it to support the Chamber," said Mike Costello, executive director of the Chamber, of Taliadoros' decision.
Taliadoros was bowled over — literally — when the dog won.
"All of a sudden I saw number 369 (Madison B.'s number) and I couldn't even believe it," he said. "It was just bizarre ... I almost fell over."
Costello said he thought a person had won when he announced Madison B. as the winner. It wasn't until Taliadoros gasped, then revealed Madison B.'s identity, that Costello realized something extraordinary had happened.
"It caught everybody by surprise," said Costello, who joked that the Chamber has gone to the dogs. "I'm sure there are lots of people who wish it had been them rather than a dog. But I'm sure the money is lining up with a person."
Madison B.'s owner was unavailable for comment; she was out of town for the day. According to Taliadoros, she didn't find out about her dog's big win until three or four days later because she was away.
While Madison B. may not be in charge of the money, she is already getting a taste of its benefits. She is sporting a brand new pink leash and collar, and there is an abundance of her favorite dog treats to munch on while spending the day at Tony Tally's.
"Mike (Costello) got confirmation that Madison is going to be living high on really good dog food for the next few years, and is going to get some good dog collars," Scott said.
A full list of raffle winners can found at the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce Web site, www.capeannchamber.com. The raffle is an annual fundraiser for the Chamber.
Amanda Flitter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.