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
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.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abby, animals, boxer, california, chihuahua, dog, dogs, francis, kathleen francis, marin county, news, ohmidog!, pabst, petaluma, pets, princess, sonoma, ugliest, ugly, video, world's ugliest dog
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.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, california, chinese crested, comedy barn, dawn goehring, death, died, dies, dogs, fair, fundraising, humane society, miss ellie, miss ellie's mission, news, ohmidog!, petaluma, pets, pigeon forge, rescue, sevier county, sonoma-marin, world's ugliest dog
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.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adversity, amputation, animals, attack, backyard, california, casters, front legs, legs, lost, lucky, mobility, overcoming, pet, petaluma, pets, raccoon, robert jereb, sally pyne, sliders, surgery, turtle, veterinarian, veterinary
So here’s a look at some of the ugly also-rans from the annual contest, part of the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California.
OPIE — One of five Chinese Cresteds in this year’s competition, Opie, 10, was found by a good samaritan and taken to an emergency veterinary clinic for help. He had a large ulcerated mass on his side that the rescue center that later took him in had removed. It was cancer. The skin on his body was covered with sores, abrasions and dried blood. Half of his lower jaw was missing. He has only one tooth. The rescue center named him Ooglee, but his new owner thinking “he should have a nice little boy’s name,” changed it to Opie. “We are so happy that we adopted this little dog. He is the kindest, sweetest, most gentle dog I have ever known,” wrote his owner, who prepares Opie’s meals in a food processor. “He entered this contest and is going to Petaluma to show everyone that old dogs and dogs with disabilites can be great pets!”
MOJO — The only Shar-Pei in this year’s ugly dog contest, Mojo has a face only a mother could love, says her mother, “and I absolutely adore her.”
“Despite her appearance, she is the sweetest, most lovable dog you could wish for. She always causes a stir wherever we go,” her owner added.
” We do everything together, she is the love of my life and makes me look good.”
RASCAL — Rascal, the 2002 World’s Ugliest Dog winner, is owned by actor, Dane Andrew of Sunnyvale, Ca. Naturally hairless and weighing seven pounds, he sports what his owner describes as “Einstein hair, crooked face and a tongue that hangs out due to being born without many teeth.” Rascal has had roles in a few horror films, coming out soon, and has a cartoon strip and documentary soon to debut, both named “The Ugliest Dog.” Rascal uses his ugly for good, his owner said, and will soon be coming out with a “patented trademark hot dog leash,” proceeds from the sale of which will go towards animal charities.
ARF –Arf, 12, was rescued as a puppy from a pound where he was on death row. Through his life, he has faced many battles, his owner says — dermatological problems, a disfigured front paw and eventually the loss of his back leg.
“Although his hair is sparse, and he puzzles people he meets, this three-legged dog continues to walk in pride with a sparkle in his eyes and a wag in his tail.”
To see all of the entrants and learn more about the contest, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: arf, california, chinese crested, contest, dog, dogs, fair, handicapped, loser, marin, mojo, ohmidog!, old, opie, pabst, petaluma, rascal, rescue, shar-pei, sharpei, shelter, sick, sonoma, title, ugliest, ugly, winner, world's ugliest dog
Pabst, a boxer mix with a serious underbite, took top honors in Friday’s World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Marin- Sonoma Fair.
Pabst beat out five Chinese Cresteds — the breed that traditionally takes top honors in the competition — including a former world champion named Rascal to take first place.
Pabst fetched $1,600 in prize money, a modeling contract, and a table-full of collars, leashes and toys.
Pabst’s victory was an upset of sorts. The hairless and awkward-appearing Chinese Crested breed has dominated the contest for over seven years.
The onwer of Pabst, Miles Egstad, said he named his dog for his “bitter beer face.”
The annual contest started back in 1976. This year’s judges included Jon Provost, who played Timmy on “Lassie”; Karen “Doc” Halligan from “Groomer Has It,” “Dog Tales,” and “Animal Rescue 911”; and Sonoma-Marin Fair board member Brian Sobel.
Egstad said Pabst was originally rescued from an animal shelter as a puppy about 4 years ago. He recalls once being told by a friend, ”I’m so glad you adopted Pabst, because I don’t know if anyone else would!”
Pabst sports a two-inch underbite, a large burn scar on his stomach and his nails grow in any direction they feel, his owner says.
“Needless to say Pabst gets attention everywhere he goes,” he said. “In all actuality Pabst enjoys taking lots of naps and laying in the sun, and he is not the scary looking dog his teeth make him out to be.”
Posted by John Woestendiek June 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, boxer mix, california, chinese cresteds, contest, dog, dogs, fair, jon provost, karen halligan, marin-sonoma, miles egstad, pabst, petaluma, pets, ugliest dog, ugly, world's ugliest dog