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SIOUX CITY | After her family’s dog passed last year, Patty Lohry attended the 78th annual Little Yellow Dog Auction on Saturday determined to take home this year’s prized puppy, Snickers.

Cradling the 3-month-old liver-and-white springer spaniel after she had topped all other offers with a $15,000 bid, Lohry, of Sioux City, said she and her husband, Eric, had become resolute in giving Snickers a home after seeing the dog’s photos in the Journal.

“So, we plan on having Snickers be with us for a really long time,” Lohry said, adding that she and her husband would likely keep Snickers as his name. “He is going to be spoiled. Spoiled." 

The auction’s proceeds go to the Journal’s Mr. Goodfellow Charities, which provide toys and books for children in need. The annual fundraiser, which began in 1914, is expected to reach about 8,000 children this year.

Lohry had never been to the auction before, she said, but she remembers following the bidding as a child when her father used to contribute to the charity.

“It’s very important that 100 percent of it goes back to the children,” Lohry said. “And it’s just been a wonderful organization throughout the years where so many volunteers have given so much of their time to give back to the children of Sioux City.”

Amid the hundreds of participants and colorful Christmas decorations in the Ho-Chunk Centre lobby in downtown Sioux City, bidders bested each other’s offers for about an hour, with some breaks in the action for live holiday music from the All-America Concert Band.

The bidding moved steadily in $100 increments for most of the action until Lohry pushed it from just shy of $13,000 to the winning $15,000 bid after her husband, who was texting her from Dallas, urged her to act quickly. Lohry’s bid surpassed last year’s final bid of $14,500.

With Lohry’s bid and other donations, the event brought in roughly $39,000, said Goodfellow Charities Treasurer Sue Stusse. Saturday’s proceeds put this year’s Goodfellow fund at about $121,000, still shy of the $130,000 goal.

“It started a little bit slow, but then it picked up like it always does and it came through once again,” Stusse said. “So, hopefully we’ll hit our goal.”

Longtime Little Yellow Dog auctioneer Bruce Brock, of Brock Auction Co., in Le Mars, said generous donors filled his cowboy hat with cash and checks three different times during breaks in the bidding. The actual auction, he said, always takes care of itself.

“We sometimes don’t know who may be the ones that buy the dog or how much they’ll pay,” he said. "But we know somebody will step up – somebody that has a big heart and wants to be part of the ownership legacy that is the Little Yellow Dog.”

Brock, who has auctioned the puppies for more than 15 years, said this year “stacked right up there with some of the best,” but added that money has never been the focus.

“The big thing is that it’s not so much how much money the dog brings, but how many people are helped,” he said. “The spirit of Christmas gets passed on to many, many, many folks who aren’t maybe as fortunate as some. And the ones that are more fortunate are so willing to give so generously to make their lives better.”

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