There are numerous dog contests held across the world. However, very few compare to the one that takes place annually in Petaluma, California. That's because the judges at this competition are not looking for well-groomed pooches with perfect lineage. Instead, they are seeking out ones that possess inner beauty and personality and stand out due to their unusual looks. Welcome to the "World's Ugliest Dog" contest.
Now celebrating its 27th year at the Sonoma Marin Fair, the competition is one of its most popular events, attracting dozens of entrants and hundreds of spectators. To be eligible, dog owners have to provide contest organizers with a veterinarian's certificate that asserts that the pooches are healthy. The contestants are also examined by an on-site physician before they are allowed to participate. Such precautions are necessary to ensure the dogs are not abused or beaten up to transform their looks.
This year's contest that took place on June 26 attracted twenty-seven interesting looking dogs from all across the country. Among them was last year's third-place winner Scamp, a shaggy pooch with a prominent snaggletooth and rasta dreadlocks. Rescued from a Southern California shelter minutes before he was due to be euthanized, he is now a volunteer pet therapy dog who spends his days visiting the elderly and listening to 1st grader's read to him.
Also in contention was Rascal Deux, a four-year-old naturally hairless pooch with an impressive pedigree. His father won this contest in 2002 and his great grandfather Chi Chi holds the Guinness World Record for winning seven "ugly dog" titles. While Rascal has not quite achieved the same fame, he has been the named top dog at two other copycat contests.
But it was Quasi Modo, a pit-bull Dutch shepherd mix who "epitomized excellence in ugliness" that impressed the judges the most. Born with a spinal defect that left him slightly hunchbacked, the 10-year-old was abandoned at an animal shelter. Fortunately, a veterinarian in Loxahatchee, Florida, fell in love with his unusual hyena/Tasmanian devil look that often sends even adults scurrying away in fear, and decided to adopt him. In addition to a cash prize of $1,500 USD, Quasi Modo, and his owner also made an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show where the "World's Ugliest Dog" received a makeover.
Sweepee Rambo, a Chinese Crested Chihuahua, with a soft freckled skin and snazzy blond mohawk was named the first runner-up. Frodo, a "bossy" a 12.5-year-old Chinese crested hairless-Chihuahua mix came in third.
The first ever "World's Ugliest Dog Spirit Award" to recognize a pooch and owner who have overcome obstacles and are providing a service to the community, went to eight-year-old Petaluma CA, resident, Precious. The Chihuahua, who is blind in one eye was adopted as a birthday gift for her owner, a disabled veteran. Besides providing companionship to her and other veterans, the smart dog is also trained to monitor the owner's blood sugar and alert caregivers when it is trending lower.
Though calling dogs "ugly" may appear to be cruel and derogatory, the contest organizers say that is not their intention. According to Sonoma-Marin Fair's CEO Sarah Cummings, the event is held to "celebrate the spirit and imperfections that make these dogs loveable and adoptable." The organizers hope that seeing how these not-so-perfect dogs can be as loving and loyal as their better-looking counterparts, will encourage more people to adopt them.
Resources: sonoma-marinfair.org, abcnews.go.com,cbsnews.com,dailymail.co.uk