SIOUX CITY | It’s a dog’s life.

Dasher, a 5-month-old beagle, was the subject of much attention Saturday morning, carried about the crowd at the Ho-Chunk Centre with a near constant stream of scratches behind his ears by those gathered for the 80th annual Little Yellow Dog Auction.

The puppy was the guest of honor for the charity auction, the proceeds of which benefit Mr. Goodfellow, the Journal’s annual fundraiser to provide toys and books to underprivleged children each holiday season.

Auctioneer Bruce Brock, with Brock Auction Company, began the auction with an opening bid of $500, but that total quickly rose. Brock's cadence of numbers paused at times to crack a joke to a familiar face in the crowd.

When the day was complete, Dasher, this year's Little Yellow Dog, was purchased by Don Boyer of McCook Lake, S.D., and his siblings in honor of their late father, Vernon. Boyer's winning bid was $10,200.

During the proceedings, Abraham Wanning, 2, was carried around by his grandfather, Jim Levich, cowboy hat in hand to accept donations of cash and checks for the Goodfellow cause.

The bidding passed $2,000, and Sioux City's All America Concert Band, conducted by Cody Tucker, broke into another Christmas song. The band had provided Christmas music during the festivities leading up to the start of the auction.

Michelle Bader is kennel master for the Ancient and Effervescent Order of the Little Yellow Dog, the group that sponsors the auction and donates proceeds to the Mr. Goodfellow Charity. She had been caring for Dasher prior to the auction, and early in Saturday's festivities handed the dog to Brad Reiling, who paraded Dasher around so spectators could get a close look at him and give him a scratch behind his ears.

“The auction always receives a lot of support,” Bader said. “People of Siouxland are always generous, wanting to help the kids,” she said. 

Bidding was at more than $5,000 when Brock took to the escalator to reach the balcony, with bids rising at the same time. Then Brock tipped Wanning’s cowboy hat full of cash and checks to the crowd below and the money rained down, quickly gathered up by attendants.

Gregg Lucken, president of the Ancient and Effervescent Order of the Little Yellow Dog, said that despite 80 years of Little Yellow Dog auctions, the event has stayed the same over time -- with its mission unaltered.

“We still are about being a benevolent spirit, helping however we can,” Lucken said.

With bidding nearing $10,000, the room began to quiet as the bids became more sparse. Brock then pointed to the middle of the seated bidders, calling out $10,200 once. Twice.

Sold! to Boyer, who rose with a grin and a wave to the crowd after being declared the winner, along with his family.

Don and his wife, Linda Boyer, his sister, Chris Hutfless and her husband Kevin of Des Moines, his sister, Sally Bjork with her husband Tom of Sioux City, and his brother, Scott Boyer and his wife Ruth of Chicago, placed the bids in memory of their father, Vernon, who died in 1985.

Saturday was Vernon’s birthday, Don said.

“I figured it’s a way to pay tribute to him and give back to the kids,” Boyer said. Asked if he would keep the name “Dasher” for the beagle, he deferred that decision to his grandchildren.

“It’s up to them,” he said with a laugh.

The winning bid, along with the donations throughout the Saturday festivities, brought in about $39,000. That put the total so far for this year's Mr. Goodfellow drive at about $115,000.

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