Star Bunny: Cal wins 85086’s Cutest Pet Contest

Star Bunny 

Cal wins 85086’s Cutest Pet Contest.

The fifth annual 85086 Cutest Pet Contest proved yet again that pet owners are an avid bunch. Out of oodles of adorable submissions, readers selected the winner. For the first time, a bunny nabbed the top spot away from the canines. We can’t wait to see the pets entered next year. Until then, meet 2018’s winning rabbit, Cal.

Photo by Shannon Fisher Photography


First Place



AGE: 2

BREED: English Spot/Dwarf Mix Bunny

FAMILY: The Peters



A few weeks before Dana Peters was set to graduate from Northern Arizona University and move back to Anthem to live with her parents, she went looking for a pet. She found Cal online and picking him up from the Arizona Humane Society shelter in Norterra was the first thing she did when she got back into town. “We’ve been best friends ever since,” she says of the former stray.

Defining characteristics:

“He’s a really interesting guy. He’s very shy compared to other bunnies that I’ve met, but he’s also very curious. I’ve been teaching him how to do tricks. He’s a quick learner and very smart,” says Dana, who also calls him quirky and friendly, although not super social like a dog typically is. Dana points out that Cal sneezes a lot. “He’s not sick, he’s just sneezy. It’s just one of his personality traits, like one of the seven dwarfs.”

Household antics:

“Cal’s never going to learn how to come when I call because he has so many names,” explains Dana. He’s allowed to free roam in Dana’s bedroom, where he spends a majority of his time. Potty trained, Cal does his “business” in a litter box, which makes cleanup easy. “He’s got a cage and a play yard in my bedroom. I’m trying to convince him to hop up in my bed, but he’s not super interested in that,” says Dana.

Favorite adventures:

Cal shares the Peters household with an 11-year-old Yorkie named Lucky. While Cal doesn’t pay the family dog any mind, Lucky had a bit more interest in bunny initially and is now kept away from Dana’s beloved rabbit. “I don’t want Lucky to treat Cal as a snack,” says Dana. Meanwhile, Cal doesn’t get out much because he’s not leash trained. Dana’s little brother has taken a liking to Cal too. “He watches Cal when I’m out of town, which is not super often because I can’t stand to leave my bunny child,” says Dana.

Preferred treat:

“Lettuce, pellets, and treats. He really likes bananas and carrots, those are his favorite snacks,” says Dana, who points out that rabbits make fun and interesting pets and admits that they need special care. She also wants people to know that you can rescue rabbits from shelters, rather than purchasing them from a pet store.


Second Place


AGE: 5

BREED: Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

FAMILY: The Wheelers



“Mason was born at the veterinary clinic I worked at via C-section. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the owners were unable to care for the litter of four puppies that required to be bottle fed often. I adopted Mason and his sister, Lily (a tri-color Sheltie), and a co-worker took their brother and sister, Alex and Emily, who like Mason are blue merles. I woke up every two hours to feed the hungry puppies,” says Michelle Wheeler. “They were so cute they reminded me of gerbils. On Christmas day, Mason opened his eyes for the first time. Mason and Lily have many adopted siblings in our household: Jake a husky-shepherd mix, three cats (George, Sox, and Martin), and two human babies, Claire (2) and Danielle (1).”

Defining characteristics:

“Besides being one of the cutest dogs around, Mason is also unique because he is so sweet. His personality really is one in a million. I wish I could take credit for his amazing behavior, but it is 100 percent natural,” says Michelle.

Household antics:

“Mason’s favorite thing to do around the house is to play fetch. The ball is his favorite thing! He is training Claire and Danielle to throw it for him; it is very adorable to watch,” says Michelle, who had to switch out tennis balls for soft rubber balls so that Mason doesn’t wear his teeth down. “He would play all day and all night if he could. He loves the fact that the girls’ have a mini ball pit, because now he has a never ending supply of balls!”

Favorite adventures:

Mason has many adventures, according to the Wheelers. “One of his favorites is probably getting together with all of his siblings for a ‘puppy walk.’ We love going to Anthem park with Lily, Alex, and Emily and walking all four Shelties together. It is amazing how no matter how long it has been in between walks they all immediately know each other from across the parking lot!” Mason also accompanies Michelle to work almost every day. “Mason is our ‘office assistant’, he greets the clients from behind the reception desk, where he calmly watches the other animals come in and get checked out. The only time he gets up and starts bouncing excitedly is when someone goes near the cookie jar, he knows he might get lucky and get a treat,” says Michelle.

Preferred treat:

“Mason loves all food! He is extremely food motivated. His adorable brown eyes earn him more treats than his little body needs. I had to make a sign that says, ‘Do not feed Mason. Please resist his cute puppy dog eyes and bouncing’,” Michelle explains. Despite the sign he still gets spoiled at work so Michelle gives him green beans and carrots at home, which he loves.


3rd Place


AGE: 8

BREED: Yorkie mix

FAMILY: The Taddeos



“Franny came to me in February of 2010 from a shelter in Ohio. I was fostering dogs for a rescue group at the time, and she had been left in a drop box at the shelter as an 8-week-old puppy. They asked if I’d like to foster her and the rest is history,” says Gina Taddeo.

Defining characteristics:

“She has two furry brothers, Bruce and Romeo. Romeo is closer to her age and they could play for hours! She also has two kitty friends in the house, Enzo and Sophia. They also play with her and I have to wonder who plays the hardest,” says Gina. “She’s always been a very energetic playful dog and I’m so glad I said yes to foster her.”

Favorite adventures: 

“Franny’s favorite thing in the world is to go for walks and look for bunnies. She’s all terrier and quite the tomboy! I’d never let her catch one but she is happy just to see them. Lizards too,” explains Gina.

Preferred treat:

“Franny loves ‘cookies’ of all kinds, but her favorite treat is called Thinkers,” says Gina. “They are sausage type treats and all I have to do is say ‘sausage’ and she runs to the pantry and sits very well to wait for it. She does lots of circus tricks, rolls over, plays dead when I say ‘bang’ and dances. But her signature move is to put her front paws together perfectly when I tell her to pray!”



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