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April 11, 2005   Email to Friend 

Mathematical Canine Barks Into Winner's Circle
Candice McDaniel

Telina and Jem Wilson relax with their Dachshunds, Dixie and Dexter.
Here's an interesting activity. The next time you're spending time with your dog, ask him to give you the answer to the math problem: two plus three. If Rover actually barks the answer, get him an agent. He could be a star.

Last fall, Alfa Insurance Customer Service Representative (CSR) Telina Wilson of Boaz and her husband Jem took home the $10,000 prize when their 8-year-old miniature Dachshund wowed America with his mathematical skills on America's Funniest Home Videos.

The video showed Jem writing numerical equations on a dry erase board with Dexter responding with the appropriate number of barks to answer the problem. He was given an addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problem to solve. Dexter correctly answered each one.

When asked how her canine companion could complete such a feat, Telina gave a cunning answer of her own, "Dexter has never told us how he knows the answer; he just does."

No matter how the end result came to be, the Wilson family is enjoying their 15 minutes of fame. Dexter has become somewhat of a local celebrity often going on radio programs to present this highly evolved skill.

Dexter revels in all the attention and has easily adapted to stardom. When his video was selected as a top-three finalist, America's Funniest Home Videos gave the family round-trip airfare to Los Angeles, a limo ride to Hollywood and hotel accommodations at the Universal Sheraton.

The day of the taping, the executives fell in love with the portly wiener dog and had the production assistant care for him in the greenroom until the voting began. When it came time to announce the finalists and choose a winner, Dexter and his family moved to the front row, with Dexter barking the whole way. The crowd raised his enthusiasm by cheering for him.

"When everyone saw Dexter you could hear them saying, 'Look, there's the little counting dog!' as we came down the aisle," Telina said. "The host, Tom Bergeron, started meowing at him and getting him all in a frenzy, and the more the audience clapped and whistled and carried on, the more Dexter barked. He's entertained a lot throughout his life at parades and parties, and he gets excited."

When it was announced that Jem and Telina Wilson were the winners of the $10,000 prize, it was a pleasant surprise.

"We couldn't believe it," Telina said. "We were so totally shocked and stunned. We thought one of our other competitors was going to win, so when they announced us as the winners, we were surprised and very happy!"

Telina and Jem plan on using the money they have won to build a new deck and celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary in Hawaii. They continue to live in Albertville and care for Dexter and their other talented Dachshund, Dixie.

After 10 years serving policyholders as an Alfa claims CSR in Albertville and then as a sales CSR in Boaz, Telina was recently promoted to supervising CSR. She looks forward to many more years serving Alfa customers.

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