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Tag: petaluma

Is the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest getting too ugly?

sweepee

A Chinese Crested-Chihuahua mix with malformed legs and an “oozing sore” won this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog contest.

SweePee Rambo took home the title Friday night at the annual Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, beating out 15 other malformed and/or offbeat pooches, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported Saturday.

wurtzJudges in the contest, now in its 28th year, take into account bad appearance, bad odors, poor complexion and a host of other maladies, inherited and acquired — some of which, maybe, we shouldn’t be laughing so hard at.

Or even with.

I’ve already noted my growing dicontent with the contest, starting two years ago, when the winner was a dog whose appearance was believed to be a result of abuse — albeit abuse inflicted by a previous owner.

That — and the fact that the once-cute and well-intentioned little contest has become big business — led me to stop regularly reporting on it, at least in that cutesy manner that chuckling anchorpeople cover it with year after year.

Somehow the party atmosphere at the event — all the pageantry and hype — seems especially wrong when the appearance of some of the contestants is a result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.

There’s no evidence that SweePee — who is mostly hairless, blind in both eyes, has to wear diapers and has a tongue that sticks out — was mistreated. Still, I’m not sure an oozing sore should be celebrated:

“Judge Neal Gottlieb seemed particularly impressed with a sore on SweePee’s leg, noting dogs get extra points for ooze,” the Press Democrat article said.

I get what the contest was, originally, all about. But I also get what it has become, which is a little too big, a little too cut-throat and a little too prone to bestowing awards on the most disabled dog.

Owner Jason Wurtz, 44, of Encino, won a trophy and $15,000. He says he will use the money to pay for the removal of a tumor that recently popped up on SweePee’s gum line.

(Top photo by Peter Dasilva / EPA; bottom photo by Alvin Jornada / Press Democrat)

Ugliest dog contestant sports Trump’s coif

Himisaboo

Though we’ve become less than enamored with the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, and while we’ve never been fans of Donald Trump, we couldn’t pass this one up.

It seems one of this year’s contestants might be gaining voter support based on his Trump-like hairstyle.

His name is Himisaboo. He’s half-dachshund, and the other half is believed to be either Chinese Crested or Xoloitzcuintli. He hails from Payette, Idaho.

The look, his owner says, is entirely natural — though in past ugly dog competitions (he has been in four) he has sported a mohawk style cut on the one spot of his body where he has hair.

“We figured whether people loathe the Donald or love the Donald, a vote for Himisaboo is a vote for a dog that looks like Donald Trump,” owner Heather Wilson told KBOI 2News.

The contest — open to online voting — wraps up tonight when the winner will be announced.

In online voting, Himisaboo was running in second place as of yesterday.

(Photo: World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, Sonoma-Marin Fair)

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.

Has the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest run its course?

peanut2

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)

Chihuahua takes “World’s Ugliest Dog” title

A malformed Chihuahua took top honors at the World’s Ugliest Dog contest in Northern California on Friday.

Princess Abby Francis beat out Pabst, the boxer who won last year’s contest, and the usual slate of Chinese cresteds, to take the top prize.

With a gray, brown and black coat, an oddly curved back and legs, and a closed-up left eye, Abby, age 4, was rescued three months ago by Kathleen Francis.

Francis received a $1,000 check at the 22nd annual contest held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma.

“I don’t think she’s ugly at all,” Francis said. “I think she’s the most beautiful dog.”

Francis adopted Princess Abby from her veterinarian, according to the Associated Press. Her deformities are most likely a result of being inbred.

Contest judges included Veterinarian Karen “Doc” Halligan, Vertical Horizon lead singer Matt Scannell, “That 70’s Show” actress Christina Moore and fair board member Brian Sobel.

World’s ugliest dog passes away

Miss Ellie, a Chinese Crested who won the 2009 World’s Ugliest Dog Competition, has passed away at 17, but her legacy will live on.

Miss Ellie appeared on The Animal Planet show, “Dogs 101,” was featured on Fox News, seen on billboards and a commercial, captured the ugliest dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in northern California and was the star dog at The Comedy Barn Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

She was rescued when she was 7 years old and brought to live with her owner, Dawn Goehring, and 13 other rescue dogs. In her final days, Miss Ellie was continually working on raising awareness and money for rescue animals, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

She was entered in the 2010 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, and had planned to travel to California next month to compete one more time.

She was also serving as the mascot behind an effort to raise $1 million dollars for the Sevier County Humane Society.

The goal of  “Miss Ellie’s Mission” was to build a new shelter. The current animal shelter was built to hold 1,000 animals a year. It now holds about 5,000. Pigeon Forge Mayor Keith Whaley proclaimed Nov. 12, 2009 as “Miss Ellie Day” in Pigeon Forge for her efforts.

Miss Ellie had been named both the ugliest dog and the cutest, winning a 2009 contest sponsored by the All-American Dog Food Pet Brand. She came out top in online voting, over 60,000 other dogs.

Condolences can be sent to The Comedy Barn Theater at 2775 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 37863, or e-mailed to ComedyBarn@aol.com.

Lucky the turtle lost his legs, but glides on

When Lucky, the pet box turtle, lost his front legs to a raccoon, his owner had him equipped with furniture sliders that allow him to get around, almost as quickly as he used to.

Lucky and his mate, Lovey, lived in an open-topped pen with a pond in the yard of Sally Pyne, of Petaluma, Calif.

Pyne suspects a raccoon she’d spotted in the yard, eating some cat food she’d left for another pet, decided to have Lucky for lunch as well.

Pyne found Lucky injured July 31 (the raccoon spared Lovey) and took her to veterinary surgeon Robert Jereb. They think perhaps Lucky had a deformity that prevented him from pulling his front legs into his shell when the raccoon showed up.

Jereb performed surgery to remove what was left of the turtle’s legs, applied bandages and prescribed some medications to ease his pain. Pyne says she considered having the turtle euthanized. 

“I was ready to let little Lucky go home, but Lucky, he was not ready to give up,” she told Sonoma County’s Press-Democrat. “His eyes were open, and he was shoving himself around on his two back legs. He was not going to quit.” 

Jereb came up with the idea to use furniture casters, doubled up in order to match the length of his amputated legs and stuck to the bottom of his shell.  The solution seems to have worked, although the casters may need to be replaced periodically.