SIOUX CITY | The 2013 Little Yellow Dog, Snickers, sold for $15,000 at Saturday's 78th annual Little Yellow Dog Auction at the Ho-Chunk Centre.

The high bidders were Patty and Eric Lohry, of Sioux City. 

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Snickers, it's time to pack up your chew toys and get ready for your new home.

The 3-month-old, liver-and-white springer spaniel will be the star of Saturday's 78th annual Little Yellow Dog Auction at the Ho-Chunk Centre.

Snickers will sell to the highest bidder, with proceeds benefiting the Journal's Mr. Goodfellow Charities, which buys toys for underprivileged children.

The auction features live music and plenty of holiday cheer. Festivities start at 11:30 a.m. with live music from the All-America Concert Band. Bidding starts at noon. The event is free.

"We just get to see everybody from all walks of life," said auctioneer Bruce Brock, of Brock Auction Company Inc., in Le Mars. "They're all there full of the Christmas spirit and all there to give."

So far, the Ancient and Effervescent Order of the Little Yellow Dog, also known as the Grand Growlers, and other volunteers have raised about $80,600, or 62 percent, of this year's goal of $130,000.

Saturday's auction will be a festive celebration for everyone, said auction host Dave Nixon.

As a child, Nixon would tune in to the radio to listen to heavy hitters from the Sioux City stockyards battle for the honor of buying the dog.

Auction-goers now have a chance, though fleeting, to meet the dog during a pass-the-hat portion of the event. Brock, the auctioneer, takes the Yellow Dog up the escalator to the second floor, where viewers can give the puppy a quick pat or drop money in Brock's trademark cowboy hat.

One year, someone wrote a $5,000 check during the auction. Donations in the hundreds, or even $1,000, are not unusual.

"It's morphed into an event where people actually come to the event to make those donations, too, in addition to coming with the real big donation to buy the dog," Nixon said.

The auctions are always unpredictable. One year, Fred Wells heard on the radio that the auction was getting slow, so he drove down from his home near Le Mars to buy the dog, Nixon said.

Ten years ago, a Newfoundland named Seamen was a big hit, pleasantly surprising those who feared the breed's massive size might scare away potential buyers.

"Its feet were about a size 8," Nixon recalled.

The first dog, Skippy, sold for $25 in 1936. In 2012, chocolate-colored pup Truffles brought in $14,500. A record $45,000 was paid for Stoney, a Labrador, in 2011.

Snickers was donated by Little Yellow Dog board member Stew Huff and his wife, Maureen Huff. The puppy was socialized and cared for by veterinarian Michelle Bader and the staff at Family Pet Hospital, formerly Roach Animal Hospital, in Sioux City.

"The dog not only has a good personality, but it's housebroken," Nixon said.

Parents who signed up through the Journal's Mr. Goodfellow Charities receive two toys and a book for each of their children. The Goodfellow charities also provide toys for the Soup Kitchen's annual Christmas party.

This year, organizers plan to give away more than 8,000 toys. Presents will be distributed this week and next week.

Distribution days are an annual highlight for volunteers.  

"It's awesome," said Sue Stusse, the controller for the Journal. "Everybody's happy."

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