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Tag: appearance

How to erase a smile: Michigan dog whose photo went viral is now an outlaw

smileydogA dog whose smile went viral this month on the Internet has been deemed an outlaw — based entirely on his looks.

Diggy was adopted by Michigan musician Dan Tillery, and a heartwarming photo of the two of them with big smiles on their faces (left) has been shared widely on social media.

But once Tillery brought the dog home to Waterford Township, they were met with a frown.

The township bans pit bulls, and when police received “several complaints” about Diggy — not based on any bad behavior, just based on his looks — police officers visited Tillery’s home.

“Based on their observations, it was determined the dog was part pit bull/pit bull terrier,” Police Lt. Todd Hasselbach said.

Listen more closely to his remarks and you can hear they are oozing something very close to what, in the human community, we’d call racism.

He confirms that Diggy is being judged based on looks alone. He says any percentage of pit bull in Diggy — no matter how small — makes him a pit bull. And he says Diggy can’t be permitted to live in Waterford Township because of the “zero tolerance” ordinance, which has been “in effect for many years.” As if that makes it right.

Sounding like a lawman from the old west, or maybe more like a 1960’s sheriff from the deep south, went on to say Diggy has three days to get out of town.

diggyAll that would be a pretty troubling series of events, in my view, whether Diggy is a pit bull or not.

And he may not be.

Diggy was picked up as a stray earlier this year by Detroit Animal Care and Control, which classified him as an American bulldog.

Detroit Dog Rescue, the only no-kill shelter in the city, later pulled Diggy from the facility and put him up for adoption, according to ABC News’ local affiliate WXYZ.

Tillery and his girlfriend adopted Diggy after seeing a photo posted on the nonprofit rescue group’s Facebook page. In that post, Diggy — then named Sir Wiggleton — was described as a “2 year old American bulldog/pit bull mix that loves the water and is just a big goofball.”

In the week after his adoption, Diggy became an internet sensation after Tillery posted a photo of him smiling with his new dog.

Owning a pit bull in Waterford is an ordinance violation that can carry a $500 fine. Police didn’t cite Tillery but told him he had until today to relocate the dog to another town.

diggy2Waterford police said if a veterinarian deems Diggy to be an American bulldog or another permitted breed, with no pit bull in him, then he can stay — but they say it has to be a vet of the police department’s choosing.

Kristina Millman-Rinaldi, executive director of Detroit Dog Rescue, said the organization already had a vet deem Diggy an American bulldog, and called the Waterford Township city clerk’s office beforehand to make sure there were no restrictions on that breed.

Waterford Township defines pit bulls as dogs that “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club” for American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, or American Staffordshire terriers.

And the ordinance allows police officers to make that call — based on the dog’s looks and their previous experience with pit bulls.

An online petition to lift the dangerous dog ban in Waterford has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures.

Revisiting those Republicans: A breed apart

trumptrumpafghan

We don’t ever re-post on ohmidog!, but in honor of tonight’s Republican presidential debate, we are retrieving our recent in-depth look at which dog breeds best represent the candidates who will be taking the stage tonight.

Expect some snarls, many growls, and a lot of bites — or at least sound bites — as the candidates parade themselves under the spotlight in Las Vegas, offering another opportunity for the public to judge them not just on their platforms, but in terms of appearance, personality, intelligence and temperament.

So here again — with apologies to any dog breeds we have offended — is our take on what breeds the Republican candidates would be, if they were dogs.

Donald Trump — Afghan Hound

For Donald Trump, as you can see above, we’ve chosen the Afghan hound. On top of the most obvious trait they share — comb-over-able hair — the Afghan “is an aristocrat, his whole appearance one of dignity and aloofness with no trace of plainness,” according to the American Kennel Club.

“He has a straight front, proudly carried head, eyes gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past … (and) the appearance of what he is, a king of dogs, that has held true to tradition throughout the ages.”

What the AKC doesn’t mention is that Afghans are generally considered to occupy the lower end of the intelligence spectrum when it comes to dog breeds — meaning if they could talk, they would probably sound quite ignorant, all while looking quite arrogant.

Ben Carson — Basset Hound

carson???????????????????????????????

Laid back and sleepy-eyed, Ben Carson most resembles a basset hound, we think. A generally easy-going breed — some might even say lazy — basset hounds are mostly amiable, but not always eager to obey commands.

They can be a little aloof, as if they are in their own little world. When they do respond, they do it slowly and with what almost appears to be deliberation, though, more often than not, they really haven’t thought things out or done their research. Basset hounds do have a sense of humor — perhaps one that could even be described as dry.

According to Just-basset-hounds.com, bassets are known to whine, howl and bark: “The Basset has a loud, baying type of bark and he can also howl quite loudly. Barking usually is not a problem with a Basset that receives enough exercise and an adequate level of attention.”

Carly Fiorina — Italian Greyhound

fiorina?????????????

Carly Fiorina is clearly an Italian greyhound — a breed that’s not as fragile as it appears.

They are smaller versions of greyhounds, with remarkable speed, fine bones, an elegant appearance, and “dark eyes that shine with intelligence,” according to the AKC.

They are alert, proud, playful and sensitive, but they can be high strung and require constant stroking in stressful situations. They are dependable and mostly peaceful, but if frightened they can snap.

Rand Paul — Cocker Spaniel

??????????????????cockerrandpaul

For Rand Paul, we’re going with the American Cocker Spaniel.

The smallest member of the Sporting Group, the Cocker Spaniel has a sturdy, compact body and a cleanly chiseled and refined head. They seem charming, outgoing and sociable, but they do not typically make good watchdogs. They are loyal, endearing companions that crave – and thrive on – human attention, but some can be standoffish, unpredictable, shy or aggressive.

It is recommended to keep a Cocker Spaniel on a leash because they can be easily distracted and try to chase any nearby moving creature.

Chris Christie — English Bulldog

chris_christiechristie

Chris Christie? What else but the English bulldog — a sturdy breed with a low center of gravity and some magnificent jowls.

Yourpurebredpuppy.com says of the breed, “Though not a barking watchdog, his blocky build and odd, rolling, shuffling gait give intruders pause. It takes a tremendous amount of serious teasing or threatening to provoke this sweet-natured breed, but once aroused, he can be a force to reckon with. His tenacity and resolve mean that it’s difficult to change his mind once he decides to do something.”

Bulldogs are more sensitive than they appear, and tend to remember what they learn, but some male bulldogs may engage in a stubborn battle of wills with other males. They are best trained with food, not force, the website says. “Jerking this breed around accomplishes absolutely nothing.”

Jeb (and George W.) Bush — Boxer

Jeb-Bush.JPGFor the latest member of the Bush litter to seek the nation’s highest office, Jeb, we’ve chosen the boxer.

Boxers are large, muscular, square-headed dogs with eyes that seem to reflect mischief.

pets4homes.co.ukTheir boundless energy has led to them being called the “Peter Pan” of the dog breeds. Boxers have one of the longest puppyhoods in the world of dogs, and their clownish antics often continue until their adult years — a la George W.

The typical boxer is headstrong. They are known for their great love of and loyalty to their families — a la Jeb. They often are distrustful of strangers at first, especially if they perceive a threat to their families, according to Dogtime.com.

They are stubborn, sensitive and proud, sometimes bracing their legs like a toddler amid a tantrum, refusing to do what you want them to do. Insisting they obey can lead them to shut down and sulk. They are not quiet dogs. In addition to barking, they grumble, grunt, snort, snuffle and snore, according to Yourpurebredpuppy.com. “The sounds are endearing to some people, bothersome to others.”

Marco Rubio — Chihuahua

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????rubiochi

Marco Rubio, in case you haven’t heard, is the son of Cuban immigrants. Chihuahuas originated in Mexico. But our comparison is based not so much on Latin heritage as it is a particular personality trait.

Tiny as they are, Chihuahuas like to pretend they are big. They will raise a mighty ruckus, and bark their heads off, but still, behind it, you can often detect some underlying fear.

High strung and yappy, at least in the view of their critics, Chihuahuas are naturally suspicious toward strangers, and they seem to prefer being among their own breed.

When they get over excited, frightened, or just plain cold, they visibly shiver. They are quick to sound the alarm and can get a little shrill. As Yourpurebredpuppy.com puts it, some chihuahuas prone to putting on a “display of excited ferociousness (aka ‘they pitch a fit’) when other people or animals approach what they consider to be ‘theirs.’ Which, for some Chihuahuas, extends to the entire street.”

Ted Cruz — Saluki

cruzsaluki

Salukis have been described as stubborn and manipulative — independent thinkers who don’t particularly care about pleasing you.

We’re sure Ted Cruz is at least one of those, if not all three.

Salukis need firm boundaries or they will be quick to take advantage, training manuals warn. They carry themselves in a dignified yet aloof manner — much like a cat. They can by shy, suspicious and stubborn, and dislike changes in their routine.

As sight hounds, they also are prone to chasing down anything that runs.

Mike Huckabee — Beagle

huckabeehuckabee beagle

Mike Huckabee is a beagle all the way.

They are friendly with people, seemingly good-natured, peaceful with other pets, and have an appealing soulful expression. But make no mistake about it, they are hunting dogs, letting their noses lead them through life.

They are well-known escape artists, and have an innate sense of wanderlust. They are also wailers, baying and howling at the slightest provocation, or with no provocation at all.

They needs lots of activity and hate being bored — so much so they can get a little destructive when they have nothing to do.

John Kasich — Rottweiler

kasichrott

John Kasich likes to portray himself as a working class sort (and he is the son of a mailman) so let’s match him up with a working dog — albeit one of the last breeds a mailman wants to see, the Rottweiller.

Rottweilers are often stereotyped as intense, aggressive, combative and easily provoked — all terms that have been used to describe Kasich. Some see him as prickly, the sort who can get himself quite worked up and come out swinging, at least verbally.

The AKC Standard describes the Rottweiler as “a calm, confident, and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.” Strong-willed and highly loyal, Rottweilers — though they don’t want to ban Syrian refugees like Kasich does — can be very territorial when it comes to newcomers venturing onto what they see as their turf.

While they are inclined toward dominance, Rottweilers are also pretty touchy-feely — quick to sit on your feet, lie on your lap or lean their entire weight against your leg.

Rick Santorum — Pug

santorumpug

Pugs, like Rick Santorum, love being in the spotlight.

“Pugs love to be the center of attention, and are heartsick if ignored,” according to Dogbreedinfo.com.

Their cute and clownish ways endear them to their hard core fans, though living with them is not always easy, given their snoring, and snorting and piggish eating habits. The zany antics of the bug-eyed lapdogs — like mindlessly running in circles — makes up for their often stubborn ways.

“These dogs can be a bit willful if they sense they are stronger minded than the humans around them,” according to dogbreedinfo.com.

Lindsey Graham — Chow Chow

lindsey-graham????????

How can something so cute and fluffy be so vicious?

It’s not all chows — no, no, not at all — but the history of the breed and abuses by breeders have led to many a troubled chow being born, giving them a reputation as aggressive and stubborn and among the hardest breeds to manage.

Not to mention biters. The chow is “protective over his territory and his family, and won’t willingly allow people into his home and yard. He will growl and even bite an unwelcome visitor,” says Dogtemperament.com.

“This dog is extremely dominant, and doesn’t like anyone telling him what he can and can’t do. He doesn’t appear to be particularly concerned about pleasing his owner either, so you need to find another motivator for him. Otherwise, he’ll just do what he wants to, with no regard for what you are trying to teach him … If you’re looking for a companion to snuggle up to on the couch, this is not the dog for you.”

Chows have a dignified appearance, lordly, even, with a slight touch of snobbishness. “The coat of a teddy bear, the scowl of a lion,” is how one website puts it. Yes, they look approachable, but more than a few websites warn they are not to be trusted.

So that wraps up this edition of what if presidential candidates were dogs. There are a couple more lesser known Republicans still technically in the race, but we know so little about them we’ll refrain from assigning them breeds.

As for the Democrats, we may, in the interest of fair play, do the same thing. Then again we may not. Feel free to send along your suggestions, though.

(Photo credits: Trump photo from Splash News, Afghan photo from Pinterest; Carson photo from dailykos.com, basset hound photo from Bellinghambassets.com; Fiorina photo by Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press, Italian greyhound photo from American Kennel Club; Paul photo by Jim Cole, Associated Press, cocker spaniel photo from dogs.petbreeds.com; Chris Christie photo from politicususa.com, English bulldog photo from dailypuppy.com; Bush photo from Politicususa.com; boxer photo from Pets4homes.co.uk; Rubio photo by Molly Riley, Associated Press; Chihuahua photo from Pinterest; Cruz photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons, saluki photo from top-dogbreeds.blogspot.com;; Huckabee photo from Pensitoreview.com, beagle photo from American Kennel Club; Kasich photo from ABC News, Rottweiler photo from Pinterest; Santorum photo from Reuters, pug photo from Buzzfeed; Graham photo from Reuters, chow photo from ohmidog!)

Canis Republicanis: If the top 12 Republican presidential candidates were dog breeds …

trumptrumpafghan

There aren’t quite as many Republican candidates for president as there are dog breeds, but there are enough of both to have some fun with, or at least fun in a Democrat’s eyes.

So here, before the pack thins out any more, is our look at what Republican candidates remind us most of which dog breeds, and why.

Factors taken into consideration include appearance, personality, intelligence, reputation and temperament.

I’d like to apologize right up front for any embarrassment these comparisons may cause.

Sorry, dogs.

Donald Trump — Afghan Hound

For Donald Trump, as you can see above, we’ve chosen the Afghan hound. On top of the most obvious trait they share — comb-over-able hair — the Afghan “is an aristocrat, his whole appearance one of dignity and aloofness with no trace of plainness,” according to the American Kennel Club.

“He has a straight front, proudly carried head, eyes gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past … (and) the appearance of what he is, a king of dogs, that has held true to tradition throughout the ages.”

What the AKC doesn’t mention is that Afghans are generally considered to occupy the lower end of the intelligence spectrum when it comes to dog breeds — meaning if they could talk, they would probably sound quite ignorant, all while looking quite arrogant.

Ben Carson — Basset Hound

carson???????????????????????????????

Laid back and sleepy-eyed, Ben Carson most resembles a basset hound, we think. A generally easy-going breed — some might even say lazy — basset hounds are mostly amiable, but not always eager to obey commands.

They can be a little aloof, as if they are in their own little world. When they do respond, they do it slowly and with what almost appears to be deliberation, though, more often than not, they really haven’t thought things out or done their research. Basset hounds do have a sense of humor — perhaps one that could even be described as dry.

According to Just-basset-hounds.com, bassets are known to whine, howl and bark: “The Basset has a loud, baying type of bark and he can also howl quite loudly. Barking usually is not a problem with a Basset that receives enough exercise and an adequate level of attention.”

Carly Fiorina — Italian Greyhound

fiorina?????????????

Carly Fiorina is clearly an Italian greyhound — a breed that’s not as fragile as it appears.

They are smaller versions of greyhounds, with remarkable speed, fine bones, an elegant appearance, and “dark eyes that shine with intelligence,” according to the AKC.

They are alert, proud, playful and sensitive, but they can be high strung and require constant stroking in stressful situations. They are dependable and mostly peaceful, but if frightened they can snap.

Rand Paul — Cocker Spaniel

??????????????????cockerrandpaul

For Rand Paul, we’re going with the American Cocker Spaniel.

The smallest member of the Sporting Group, the Cocker Spaniel has a sturdy, compact body and a cleanly chiseled and refined head. They seem charming, outgoing and sociable, but they do not typically make good watchdogs. They are loyal, endearing companions that crave – and thrive on – human attention, but some can be standoffish, unpredictable, shy or aggressive.

It is recommended to keep a Cocker Spaniel on a leash because they can be easily distracted and try to chase any nearby moving creature.

Chris Christie — English Bulldog

chris_christiechristie

Chris Christie? What else but the English bulldog — a sturdy breed with a low center of gravity and some magnificent jowls.

Yourpurebredpuppy.com says of the breed, “Though not a barking watchdog, his blocky build and odd, rolling, shuffling gait give intruders pause. It takes a tremendous amount of serious teasing or threatening to provoke this sweet-natured breed, but once aroused, he can be a force to reckon with. His tenacity and resolve mean that it’s difficult to change his mind once he decides to do something.”

Bulldogs are more sensitive than they appear, and tend to remember what they learn, but some male bulldogs may engage in a stubborn battle of wills with other males. They are best trained with food, not force, the website says. “Jerking this breed around accomplishes absolutely nothing.”

Jeb (and George W.) Bush — Boxer

Jeb-Bush.JPGFor the latest member of the Bush litter to seek the nation’s highest office, Jeb, we’ve chosen the boxer.

Boxers are large, muscular, square-headed dogs with eyes that seem to reflect mischief.

pets4homes.co.ukTheir boundless energy has led to them being called the “Peter Pan” of the dog breeds. Boxers have one of the longest puppyhoods in the world of dogs, and their clownish antics often continue until their adult years — a la George W.

The typical boxer is headstrong. They are known for their great love of and loyalty to their families — a la Jeb. They often are distrustful of strangers at first, especially if they perceive a threat to their families, according to Dogtime.com.

They are stubborn, sensitive and proud, sometimes bracing their legs like a toddler amid a tantrum, refusing to do what you want them to do. Insisting they obey can lead them to shut down and sulk. They are not quiet dogs. In addition to barking, they grumble, grunt, snort, snuffle and snore, according to Yourpurebredpuppy.com. “The sounds are endearing to some people, bothersome to others.”

Marco Rubio — Chihuahua

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????rubiochi

Marco Rubio, in case you haven’t heard, is the son of Cuban immigrants. Chihuahuas originated in Mexico. But our comparison is based not so much on Latin heritage as it is a particular personality trait.

Tiny as they are, Chihuahuas like to pretend they are big. They will raise a mighty ruckus, and bark their heads off, but still, behind it, you can often detect some underlying fear.

High strung and yappy, at least in the view of their critics, Chihuahuas are naturally suspicious toward strangers, and they seem to prefer being among their own breed.

When they get over excited, frightened, or just plain cold, they visibly shiver. They are quick to sound the alarm and can get a little shrill. As Yourpurebredpuppy.com puts it, some chihuahuas prone to putting on a “display of excited ferociousness (aka ‘they pitch a fit’) when other people or animals approach what they consider to be ‘theirs.’ Which, for some Chihuahuas, extends to the entire street.”

Ted Cruz — Saluki

cruzsaluki

Salukis have been described as stubborn and manipulative — independent thinkers who don’t particularly care about pleasing you.

We’re sure Ted Cruz is at least one of those, if not all three.

Salukis need firm boundaries or they will be quick to take advantage, training manuals warn. They carry themselves in a dignified yet aloof manner — much like a cat. They can by shy, suspicious and stubborn, and dislike changes in their routine.

As sight hounds, they also are prone to chasing down anything that runs.

Mike Huckabee — Beagle

huckabeehuckabee beagle

Mike Huckabee is a beagle all the way.

They are friendly with people, seemingly good-natured, peaceful with other pets, and have an appealing soulful expression. But make no mistake about it, they are hunting dogs, letting their noses lead them through life.

They are well-known escape artists, and have an innate sense of wanderlust. They are also wailers, baying and howling at the slightest provocation, or with no provocation at all.

They needs lots of activity and hate being bored — so much so they can get a little destructive when they have nothing to do.

John Kasich — Rottweiler

kasichrott

John Kasich likes to portray himself as a working class sort (and he is the son of a mailman) so let’s match him up with a working dog — albeit one of the last breeds a mailman wants to see, the Rottweiller.

Rottweilers are often stereotyped as intense, aggressive, combative and easily provoked — all terms that have been used to describe Kasich. Some see him as prickly, the sort who can get himself quite worked up and come out swinging, at least verbally.

The AKC Standard describes the Rottweiler as “a calm, confident, and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.” Strong-willed and highly loyal, Rottweilers — though they don’t want to ban Syrian refugees like Kasich does — can be very territorial when it comes to newcomers venturing onto what they see as their turf.

While they are inclined toward dominance, Rottweilers are also pretty touchy-feely — quick to sit on your feet, lie on your lap or lean their entire weight against your leg.

Rick Santorum — Pug

santorumpug

Pugs, like Rick Santorum, love being in the spotlight.

“Pugs love to be the center of attention, and are heartsick if ignored,” according to Dogbreedinfo.com.

Their cute and clownish ways endear them to their hard core fans, though living with them is not always easy, given their snoring, and snorting and piggish eating habits. The zany antics of the bug-eyed lapdogs — like mindlessly running in circles — makes up for their often stubborn ways.

“These dogs can be a bit willful if they sense they are stronger minded than the humans around them,” according to dogbreedinfo.com.

Lindsey Graham — Chow Chow

lindsey-graham????????

How can something so cute and fluffy be so vicious?

It’s not all chows — no, no, not at all — but the history of the breed and abuses by breeders have led to many a troubled chow being born, giving them a reputation as aggressive and stubborn and among the hardest breeds to manage.

Not to mention biters. The chow is “protective over his territory and his family, and won’t willingly allow people into his home and yard. He will growl and even bite an unwelcome visitor,” says Dogtemperament.com.

“This dog is extremely dominant, and doesn’t like anyone telling him what he can and can’t do. He doesn’t appear to be particularly concerned about pleasing his owner either, so you need to find another motivator for him. Otherwise, he’ll just do what he wants to, with no regard for what you are trying to teach him … If you’re looking for a companion to snuggle up to on the couch, this is not the dog for you.”

Chows have a dignified appearance, lordly, even, with a slight touch of snobbishness. “The coat of a teddy bear, the scowl of a lion,” is how one website puts it. Yes, they look approachable, but more than a few websites warn they are not to be trusted.

So that wraps up this edition of what if presidential candidates were dogs. There are a couple more lesser known Republicans still technically in the race, but we know so little about them we’ll refrain from assigning them breeds.

As for the Democrats, we may, in the interest of fair play, do the same thing. Then again we may not. Feel free to send along your suggestions, though.

(Photo credits: Trump photo from Splash News, Afghan photo from Pinterest; Carson photo from dailykos.com, basset hound photo from Bellinghambassets.com; Fiorina photo by Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press, Italian greyhound photo from American Kennel Club; Paul photo by Jim Cole, Associated Press, cocker spaniel photo from dogs.petbreeds.com; Chris Christie photo from politicususa.com, English bulldog photo from dailypuppy.com; Bush photo from Politicususa.com; boxer photo from Pets4homes.co.uk; Rubio photo by Molly Riley, Associated Press; Chihuahua photo from Pinterest; Cruz photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons, saluki photo from top-dogbreeds.blogspot.com;; Huckabee photo from Pensitoreview.com, beagle photo from American Kennel Club; Kasich photo from ABC News, Rottweiler photo from Pinterest; Santorum photo from Reuters, pug photo from Buzzfeed; Graham photo from Reuters, chow photo from ohmidog!)

Love those ugly dogs, just not the contest

quasi1

It was last year I decided that I’d had enough of the “Worlds Ugliest Dog Contest” — a cute little idea that has become too big, too cutthroat and, by putting so much emphasis on appearance, too much like all those beauty contests whose superficiality it was created to counter.

What finally sent me past the tipping point was that last year’s winner, Peanut, was said to look the way he looked at least in part because he had been abused — back before he was rescued by a loving family.

Giving prizes to dogs whose appearances have been mangled by humans — though that’s kind of what happens every year at Westminster — is a bad idea.

Giving prizes to dogs who are deformed, or just plain ugly, was a sweet concept at first. Then, despite its good intentions, it grew into a beast.

So with a nod to this year’s winner, Quasimodo — that’s him above in an Associated Press photo by Noah Berger — we reprint last year’s ohmidog! post on the topic, which asked the question, “Has the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest run its course?”

It seems like every year I’ve teetered a little closer to disliking the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.

A cute concept at first — and one that helped remind us what a superficial thing beauty can be — it seems to have grown into a pageant that, despite its focus on “ugliness,” inches ever closer to reflecting many of the same negative traits of purebred dog shows and beauty contests.

As the quirky little contest at the Sonoma County Fair in Petaluma has grown huge, and the title more sought after, there has been a concurrent increase in cut-throat competition, campaigning and hype.

But it’s the choice of this year’s winner that may have finally pushed me into being a fan no more. The title of World’s Ugliest Dog was won by a dog whose unusual appearance is the result of being abused.

And that troubles me.

This year’s winning dog, Peanut, a two-year-old mixed breed, is from Greenville, N.C. He was adopted from a shelter after being found abandoned and severely abused. It is suspected he was set on fire. While he’s healthy now, his eyelids, lips and patches of hair on his body were burned off, which accounts for much of his unusual appearance.

His owner, Holly Chandler, held fundraising campaigns to travel to California and enter Peanut in the contest — all, she said, to help raise awareness about animal abuse.

Given that’s a large part of this website’s mission, too, I have no problem with that cause.

I’m all for celebrating dogs who look different. I’m all for celebrating dogs who have overcome harsh odds. I’m all for abused dogs recovering and becoming rich and famous while their abusers rot in prison.

Where my discomfort comes in, I think, is placing abused animals in a “contest” context and, within that party atmosphere, picking a winner whose looks are the result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.

Abuse, it seems to me, should not be connected to pageantry and cash prizes, no matter how circuitous that link is.

Yesterday, I watched a local TV report about Peanut winning the contest. The anchor people, while noting Peanut had an inner beauty, laughed and joked about his appearance, as I’m sure the crowd did at the contest.

Peanut beat 24 other dogs to win the contest Friday, receiving more than double the votes the second-place dog received.

While his owner seemed sincere in her purpose, and probably did raise awareness about animal abuse, I can’t help but wonder whether we should all be chuckling — even while feeling sympathy and love for Peanut — at his appearance, at his prominent teeth, or his eyes that never close, given it was all the result of a cruel criminal act.

On the other hand, the world should know Peanut’s story — and the contest was a way to make that happen.

Maybe, though, there are better, more dignified ways, such as writing a book, or taking him to schools, or sharing his story with the news media — ways that might avoid the appearance of exploitation and have a little less of the circus atmosphere that seems, in my mind at least, to clash with serious nature of animal abuse.

I doubt there is any danger of people disfiguring their dogs in hopes of winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, but — given the world can be pretty ugly — stranger things have happened.

I think it would be wise, and in good taste, for contest officials to impose and enforce a ban on dogs whose “ugliness” or unusual looks are a result of actions taken by humans — whether those actions are heinous criminal acts or cosmetic steps, like dyeing, taken for amusement purposes.

While the contest’s web page states that “all the dogs must provide a veterinarian’s paperwork asserting that they are healthy and are ‘naturally ugly,’ Peanut’s victory casts some doubt on how strongly that’s being enforced.

All that said, I don’t find any fault with Chandler entering Peanut in the contest. She was on a mission. She made her point.

Maybe the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, after 25 years, has made its point too. A cute and well-intentioned gimmick with a sweet message, it might be growing into a bit of a monster. Maybe it should fade way before it becomes too Westminstery.

I have problems with contests that award people, or dogs, for good looks and conformity. Maybe I have issues with awarding them for “bad” looks and non-conformity, too.

Definitely I don’t like the idea of people laughing and finding amusement in a dog’s misery, which, in a very distant, removed and indirect way, is what’s going on.

That’s the best I can do at explaining the ill-at-ease feeling Peanut’s victory gives me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Another Ace doppelganger surfaces

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From time to time, about once every couple of years, I hear from a reader who thinks their dog looks just like mine.

That’s my dog Ace above — one of a kind, I like to think, but a mix of four breeds according to repeated DNA testing conducted after I adopted him from a Baltimore animal shelter nearly 10 years ago.

And, no, one of them isn’t German shepherd, though that is the most common guess.

The guessing is one of the joys of mutt ownership, along with the fact that — unlike with, say, Golden retrievers — running into an exact replica of your dog is something you tend to get excited about.

bobby1So, naturally, when May Tayar in Florida stumbled across Ace on the Internet, and saw how much he resembled his mystery mutt, he got pretty excited.

Tayar, who lives in Florida, had assumed his dog Bobby (left), adopted from an animal shelter in Miami, was a German shepherd mix. After reading about Ace’s heritage, now he’s not so sure.

“Bobby looks exactly like Ace,” Max wrote me earlier this month in an email, with three Bobby photos attached.

“We always wondered what mix of breeds he is,” Tayar said of Bobby. “He sometimes looks like a German shepherd, but when he’s standing next to a real one he looks nothing like him. Also Bobby’s tail is clipped so we don’t know what his tail would have looked like.”

Whether Bobby’s tail would have curled up into a question mark, like Ace’s does when he’s in a good mood (we thank the Akita for that), will never be known.

While Bobby doesn’t have Ace’s tail, he has something Ace doesn’t have — pointy ears, or at least sometimes pointy ears. Not until I got to the third photo were they shown in the full upright position, suggesting to me that Bobby, unlike Ace, may have some shepherd in him.

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After reading about Ace’s origins on ohmidog!, Max is now convinced Bobby, like Ace, is a Rottweiler, Akita, chow and pit bull mix. (Despite the bad reputation those breeds have, I generally share that information with everyone — except maybe landlords and insurers — because he shows how undeserved those reputations are.)

“We’ve been thinking about Ace a lot,” wrote Max, who owns Assara, a laser hair removal business in Manhattan. “… Every time Bobby’s ears go down and he gets a certain look on his face we call him Ace to see if he reacts.”

laikaNo sooner did I write the above then I came across, online, another Ace lookalike — really more of a Bobby lookalike, but with even bigger ears.

I was checking out the blog Puppy Leaks (I think you’d like it) when I saw a photo of Laika. That’s her to the left.

I went to the Puppy Leaks Facebook page, and sent a message to the blog’s author, Jen Gabbard, asking her if she knew what breeds were in Laika, and if it would be OK if I included Laika in this post as well, promising to poke only the gentlest fun at her highly impressive ears.

Laika, according to DNA tests Gabbard had conducted, is a mix of German shepherd, Rottweiler and pit bull.

Of course, what breeds are in a dog doesn’t define a dog — nor does the size of its ears.

It’s all relative. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and maybe even more so in the eye of the owner. Though some have pointed out they think Ace’s floppy ears are disproportionately small for his body, I’ve always seen them as just perfect.

I’m sure Max sees Bobby, and Jen sees Laika, the same way.

And the funny thing is, we’re all right.

(Photos: At top, Ace, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; second and third photos, Bobby, courtesy of Max Tayar; at bottom, Laika, courtesy of Jen Gabbard / Puppy Leaks)

Happy birthday, Bob Barker

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Bob Barker — game show host, outspoken proponent of animal rights and a man who has been putting his money where his mouth is — turned 90 yesterday.

And he was back on TV for the occasion.

Barker, who stepped down after nearly 35 years as host of CBS’s The Price Is Right in 2007, returned in an episode (taped last month) that aired yesterday, during the show’s celebration of Pet Adoption Week. He was greeted with a resounding round of applause from the audience.

Barker was known for his tradition of signing off with the words, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” His successor, comedian Drew Carey, has continued the sign-off.

THE PRICE IS RIGHTBarker’s passion for animals goes way back, and in 1987, it led him to resign from hosting the Miss U.S.A. and Miss Universe pageants — when organizers insisted on having contestants wear fur coats.

Since then he has campaigned for controlling pet overpopulation, fought for elephants and bears in captivity, supported anti-whaling efforts and funded college animal law programs.

 In 1994, he established the DJ&T Foundation with the goal of helping solve the tragic problem of animal overpopulation. The Foundation funds low cost spay/neuter clinics and subsidizes hundreds of spay/neuter voucher programs across the country in an effort to help control animal overpopulation.

Barker’s involvement with animal welfare is said to have begun in 1979, the same year he became a vegetarian. He has credited his wife, Dorothy Jo, with that, and after her death in 1981 he intensified his efforts for animal rights causes.

He was named national spokesman for “Be Kind to Animals Week” in May 1985. In 1994 he founded the DJ&T Foundation, named after his wife and mother. He has contributed millions for animal spaying and neutering programs and  animal rescue. In 2010, he donated $2.5 million to PETA to open a new Los Angeles office. The Bob Barker Building opened in 2012 on Sunset Boulevard.

HERE'S HOLLYWOOD -- "Bob Barker" -- Episode 54 -- Pictured: (l-r) TV game show host Bob Barker,  (Photo by Paul W. Bailey/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

He has also funded animal law and ethics programs at several law schools, including a $1 million donation to the University of Virginia, $1 million dollar to his alma mater Drury, and endowments to Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Columbia, UCLA, Northwestern and Georgetown.

In 2007, Barker was presented with the first ever Animal Legal Defense Fund Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of a life committed to animals and achievements made on their behalf at ALDF’s “Future of Animal Law” conference held at Harvard Law School.

In a recent interview with Parade, Barker revealed that, in addition to being a lover of dogs, bears and elephants, he also has a soft spot for rabbits.

“One day about 10 years ago, my housekeeper was coming to work and it was a cold day. And there was this little baby rabbit, sitting shivering in a yard about a block and a half from my home. She brought it home to me, and he is still thriving.

“He’s about 10 and a half years old, which is very old for a rabbit, but he’s getting good care so that he lasts long. He follows me around like a dog. He loves to be scratched, and I scratch him by the hour. I’ll scratch him until I get cramps in my hands. It’s true. He deserves it because he’s a fine, fine animal.”

Westminster Dog Show: An opposing view

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If the following take on Westminster reads like its coming from some PETA hothead that’s because it is.

Then agains, hotheads are sometimes worth listening to.

Lindsay Pollard-Post is a staff writer for The PETA Foundation, and her remarks appeared in the form of a guest column in the Sacramento Bee.

Pollard-Post recounts watching Westminster in her youth, usually with a bad case of strep throat, and with her dog Katie at her side…

“But had I known then that Westminster – and the dog-breeding industry that it props up – share the blame for the mutilation and deaths of millions of dogs each year, I would have changed the channel faster than you can say ‘Sesame Street.’

“Back then, I had no idea that the snub-nosed bulldogs and pugs prancing around the ring may have been gasping for breath the whole time because these breeds’ unnaturally shortened airways make exercise and sometimes even normal breathing difficult. I didn’t know that the “wiener dogs” that made me laugh as their little legs tried to keep up may have eventually suffered from disc disease or other back problems because dachshunds are bred for extremely long spinal columns. I didn’t learn until much later that because of inbreeding and breeding for distorted physical features, approximately one in four purebred dogs suffers from serious congenital disorders such as crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems and epilepsy.

“I remember feeling shocked when I learned that Doberman pinschers’ ears naturally flop over, and that their ears only stand up because they are cut and bound with tape when the dogs are puppies. And I felt sick to my stomach when I discovered that cocker spaniels have beautiful, long, flowing tails, but American Kennel Club breed standards call for their tails to be amputated down to nubs. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that these procedures ‘are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient’ and they ’cause pain and distress.’

“… Like many people, I hadn’t made the connection that every time someone buys a purebred dog from a breeder or a pet store, a dog in a shelter – a loving animal whose life depends on being adopted – loses his or her chance at a home …

“Dog shows also encourage viewers to go out and buy purebred dogs like the ones they see on TV from breeders or pet stores. This impulse buying robs shelter dogs of homes, and even more dogs end up homeless when overwhelmed people discover that the adorable puppy they bought ruins carpets, needs expensive vaccinations and food and requires their constant attention.

“My own parents succumbed to the lure of purebreds: They purchased Katie from a breeder. Katie was an exceptional dog and my best friend, but it saddens me to think that other loving dogs waiting behind bars in shelters missed out on a good home because we thought we needed a certain breed of puppy.

“Thankfully, some things have changed. After Katie passed away, my parents adopted a lovable mutt from the local shelter. I haven’t had strep throat since I was a teenager. And if the dreaded illness strikes again, you’ll find me cuddling on the couch with my rescued dog, Pete, watching movies – not Westminster.”