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.
(Photo: From Holly Chandler’s Gofundme page)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014, abuse, animal cruelty, animals, awards, awareness, beauty, burned, competition, contest, contests, dogs, peanut, petaluma, pets, set on fire, sonoma county fair, ugliest, ugly, world's ugliest dog
Ralph Ullum, 68 of Claysville, was attending a kennel club show in December at the DuPage County Fairgrounds with his girlfriend, whose Siberian husky, Diana, was entered in the competition.
He’s accused of feeding Protonix and possibly Benadryl to a competing husky, named Pixie, NBC in Chicago reported.
Pixie’s handler, Jessica Plourde of Newark Valley, N.Y., noticed a crushed pink pill near Pixie’s cage on the second day of competition, according to police. Later, witnesses came forward saying they had seen Ullum feeding and petting Pixie while Plourde was away from the cage
A veterinarian induced vomiting in Pixie and found a rubber band, dog food, chicken pieces and an undigested Protonix pill. Protonix is used to treat acid reflux and heartburn. Wheaton police say the pink crushed pill found near Pixie’s cage is believed to be Benadryl, an over the counter allergy medicine that can cause drowsiness.
Ullum denied feeding anything to Pixie, but said he did pet her.
His hearing on misdemeanor cruelty to animals charges is scheduled for June.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrest, benadryl, cheating, competition, competitors, diana, dog, dog show, dog shows, dogs, drugged, drugging, drugs, dupage county, kennel club, pennsylvania, pets, pixie, protonix, purebreds, ralph ullum, sabotage, siberian husky, wheaton
I wasn’t personally tuned in, but it seems Pup, the accordion-playing pooch vying to win the NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” competition, failed to make much of an impression last night.
Maybe he was overwhelmed by the bright lights, the big stage and the huge Hollywood crowd, but Pup only tugged a couple of times on the elastic strap attached to the accordion, and once it snapped out of his mouth, he stayed away from the accordion altogether.
After Pup balked, the act turned into a solo – basically his owner, Ed, singing and strumming “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
Pup failed to live up to the expectations of the judges, and his owner, Ed, from Oakhurst, California — and anyone else who saw his impressive audition tape (above).
“If Pup had continued we may have had a sensation on our hands, but we’re never going to know,” said judge Piers Morgan, who “X-ed” the act early on.
“We had some problems,” Ed explained afterward.
Pup’s on air performance — a bit painful to watch — is included in the video below.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accordion, acts, america's got talent, animals, competition, dog, dogs, ed, music, musical, nbc, performances, pets, piers morgan, playing, pup, reality, talent, television, tv, video
Sadie, a four-year-old Scottish terrier, was named best in show at Westminster, beating out 2,500 entrants at the 134-year-old dog show.
“She’s the total package,” said Elliot Weiss, of Eagle, Idaho, who judged the Best in Show round before a cheering, capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden. “This is the complete dog … That’s what you want a Scottie to look like.”
Sadie went into the competition as a favorite of both oddsmakers and experts, having won both the National Dog Show in suburban Philadelphia in November and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in California in December.
Unlike in recent years, when relatively unknown crowd favorites Uno, a beagle, and Stump, an aging Sussex spaniel, captured top honors, this year’s best in show was no surprise.
On Tuesday, the loudest cheers were for a sleek Doberman Pinscher and a French Bulldog whose mugging won the crowd over, Reuters reported.
The final round of judging was disrupted when two female protesters strode out to the winner’s circle and held up signs, including one reading “Mutts rule,” a reference to the “Dogs rule” ad campaign that has run throughout the competition. The protesters were removed by security.
Terriers are the winningest group in WKC history, having won nearly half the events throughout the club’s history. Sadie also made last year’s Best in Show round. The WKC was her 112th Best in Show and the eighth Westminster Kennel Club victory for a Scottie.
This year’s competition saw 2,500 entrants representing 173 breeds and varieties. Other breeds vying for the big prize on Tuesday were a toy Poodle, a Puli, a Whippet and a Brittany.
Handler Gabriel Rangel said Sadie was “a very happy dog. She always enjoys herself. Nobody ever tells her ‘no.’
Posted by John Woestendiek February 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 134th, 2010, animals, best in show, breeds, competition, contest, disrupted, dog, dogs, favorite, judges, judging, new york, pets, protest, sadie, scottie, scottish terrier, show, top dog, westminster, wins
A Colorado Chihuahua has won the All American Pet Company’s “Cutest Dog Competition,” and his owner says the $1 million in prize money will all be donated to the Dumb Friends Leage and the Max Fund Animal Shelter.
Dr. Papidies, owned by Dr. Leslie Capin, of Parker, beat out 60,000 other dogs for the title, which was awarded based on Internet voting.
Papidies was rescued from a puppy mill. He suffers from Addison’s disease and almost died three years ago, according to Dr. Capin. He recovered, and went on to serve as mascot for Capin’s doctor’s office, where people began referring to him as Dr. Papidies.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 1st, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: $1 million, all american pet company, animal shelter, animals, chihuahua, colorado, competition, contest, cutest, cutest dog, dog, dr. papidies, dumb friends league, leslie capin, max fund, million dollars, parker, pets, prize
I’m even more honored to learn that we are in the category “misfits.”
Click the link on the top of our leftside rail to vote for us, though I should point out it does requiring logging in and setting up an account with the Sun – meaning not that you have to subscribe, only that they will probably bug you to later.
As I am a good week late learning of this competition, and as dogs don’t get to vote, I don’t hold out much hope of besting the other “misfits.”
But a respectable showing would be nice — at least topping, say, “The Baltimore Sewing Examiner.”
CNBC takes a look at the most famous dog competition in the world tonight in an hour long special on the business side of Westminster.
The report, “American Originals: Westminster Dog Show” is anchored by Trish Regan and delves into the inner workings of the competition, which opens Monday at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
Regan explores the cost of doing business at Westminster, the return on investment, and America’s love affair with dogs that has helped turn the pet industry into one of the largest retail sectors in the country.
Featured in the program are “Uno,” the 2008 “Best in Show” winner (the first beagle ever to secure the honor), and “James,” the prior year’s title-holder, who visit hospitalized children as part of the Westminster Kennel Club’s Angel on a Leash charity. Interviews with experts include Westminster Kennel Club historian William Stifel and dog show judge Don Jones.
It airs on CNBC at 9 p.m. Live opening night coverage of Westminster begins Monday at 8 p.m. on the USA Network before switching to CNBC at 9 p.m.. USA will broadcast the complete closing night competition, starting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american originals, breeders, breeds, business, cnbc, competition, dog, dog show, dogs, kennel club, madison square garden, news, opening, pet industry, pets, purebred, trainers, trish regan, tv, usa network, westminster