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In most settings calling any dog 'ugly' is considered rude and cruel. However, at California's Sonoma-Marin Fair, it is encouraged and even applauded - Because that's what it takes to win the title of the 'World's Ugliest Dog'.
Now in its 24th year, the annual contest, which was held on June 22nd, 2012, is popular not just in the USA, but also, overseas - In fact, this year's winner, a Chinese-crested Chihuahua called Mugly, hailed all the way from Peterborough, England.
The bald and beady crusted canine that took home the trophies for 'natural ugliness' in both the pedigree and mutt categories beat out 29 formidable 'ugly' competitors, including 2002 and 2010 titleholders Rascal and Princess Abby. Also in the mix were veterans Icky and Handsome Hector, who have been trying their luck at winning this coveted title for a number of years.
Along with the title, Mugly received a cash prize of $1,000 USD and a trophy so large, that it barely fit in the trunk of the car that whisked them away for a one-night complimentary stay in a luxurious suite at the Sonoma County Sheraton. He also won a free photo shoot with San Francisco based Nuena Photography and best of all, a year's supply of dog cookies from Doggie Dollar$. Of course just like any other pageant winner, Mugly will be making appearances on television talk shows and presiding over local dog events during her one-year reign.
This is not Mugly's first encounter with fame and fortune. In 2005, he was crowned 'Britain's Ugliest Dog'. However, if you think Mugly is all looks and no substance, think again. When he is not strutting around in competitions, the rescue dog is a volunteer for Therapy Dog International and spends his days comforting sick kids in hospitals and hospices. He also helps raise money for animal rescue charities by holding on-line dog pageants and competitions. According to his owner, the eight-year old's charming personality outweighs his unusual looks.
Though the competition may seem derogatory to some people, it is held just for fun and organized by an animal psychiatrist who not only vets the dogs before they enter the competition to ensure they are healthy, but also has a 'pep' or should we say 'pet' talk with them to make sure they are also, happy. It is also important to remember all the contestants come from homes where they are loved and pampered because of their rather unusual looks - After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Resources: sonoma-marinfair.org, abcnews.go.com,cbsnews.com,dailymail.co.uk