Characterizing something or someone as a "dog" (other than those of the four-legged variety, that is) usually has a pretty negative connotation. But in the case of several songs Trace Adkins listened to this past week, finding a dog among them would have actually been more of a compliment.

Trace, a lifelong dog owner, was charged with choosing a grand prize winner for the Waggin' Train brand dog treats' Tail Waggin' Jingle Contest finals at Nashville's Hard Rock Café this week. The contest's five finalists performed their jingle live in front of the country superstar, with the winner chosen to record their jingle in a studio session produced by Trace. Dewey Longuski of Mason, Mich. (pictured above with Trace), was the grand-prize recipient and also received an autographed CD of his jingle, which may be used on Waggin' Train's official website as well as their Facebook page.

Trace had a tail-waggin' time listening to the songs that made the final cut before determining the winner but he did have to paw his way through a few that weren't quite up to scratch.

"Some of them, if you discount the fact that there was no melody and the lyrics were completely indiscernible, they were awesome!" the singer wryly tells The Boot. "But Dewey, the guy who won ... 'Waggin' Train,' the first thing that comes to my mind is out West, Wagon Train ... that's the direction he went, musically. He used a style of music that made you think of the Old West. I thought it was spot-on."

Not surprisingly, Trace, who says his family "always had a really good pack of dogs" when he was growing up, has a fondness for bigger dogs. His daughters have two Australian shepherds at home.

"They're miniatures," he concedes. "They're a little too small for my liking. But, hey, they're the girls' dogs. I had a feist. My younger brother, Clay, actually found her in a graveyard. We had other dogs but that one we kept for at least 10 years."

The Louisiana native had his ears tuned to jingles about dog treats lately, but even if he hadn't, there's one song he isn't paying too much attention to just yet -- his latest single, 'Million Dollar View,' the second release from 'Proud to Be Here' (on the aptly-named Show Dog-Universal label).

"When they first come out with them, it takes a while for you to even get a sense as to whether or not it's going to work. At least in my career," says the singer whose last hit, 'Just Fishin',' reached the Top 10. "It seems like I've had to earn my keep on every one. This one's probably no different. It's getting to be a little more uphill because I'm getting a little long in the tooth. It's harder for artists like me who've been around a long time. People seem to hungry for the next new thing, and I totally get it. But I'm gonna keep on trying to be current and relevant as long as they'll put up with me."

And even if he may be "long in the tooth" (although we respectfully disagree), at least no one's counting his age in dog years. Trace will be in Melbourne, Fla. tomorrow night (Nov. 12) then on to West Point, NY, on Nov. 17. Keep track of his tour schedule here.

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