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
Now that Pabst is an official celebrity, having been crowned “World’s Ugliest Dog,” it’s only a matter of time before the puparrazi show up, the secrets in his closet come out and his dirty laundry becomes as public as his underbite.
We’ll start things off by showing you some rare, little known footage (until I found it on YouTube) of Pabst at the beach recently — wearing nothing but a harness (and seeming to be a little afraid of the ocean).
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
A cat named Ugly is drawing stares at an Exeter, New Hampshire vet’s office, where clients say they can’t take their eyes off his striking appearance.
The cat — whose full name is Ugly Bat Boy — is bald some in places, has flowing fur in others, and he passes most of his time spread out on a warm computer.
The cat was part of a litter of four with a sister that looked just like him. That kitten died at only a few weeks old, but that was long enough for the veterinarian, a Dr. Bassett (appropriately enough), to become enamored with Bat Boy.
“The owner knew that I liked the way the sister looked, and I came in from lunch one day and this cat was sitting in a cage, and the owner said Dr. Bassett liked this cat, so that’s it,” Bassett said.
People come in and take pictures of him on their cell phones,” said veterinary employee Christie Hartnett. “The impression from clients that come in is he’s not real because he just sits so still, and when he does move, he scares them, but they think he’s mesmerizing,” Hartnett said.
The office staff was getting so many questions about the cat that they put up a couple of fliers saying he’s about 8 years old and perfectly normal in every way — just ugly.
Ugly Bat Boy, I presume is named after the creature created, er … discovered by the Weekly World News — that Florida publication that was doing fake news long before it was cool, keeping us apprised of the latest sightings of Elvis, aliens, Bigfoot and more. I had the pleasure of visiting and doing a story about about its wacky staff before it went out of business, a reprint of which is still online.
It’s good to see Bat Boy’s name living on in a hideous cat. (Actually, I can see the cat’s inner beauty, just as I saw the seriously misunderstood Bat Boy’s.)
As for Bat Boy, the cat, he has the run of the vet’s office in New Hampshire, and all the attention he can handle, according to a TV news report. “He likes it here,” Bassett said. “He’s comfortable. He likes the people petting him.”
Of course, anything this “ugly” deserves a video. So here it is.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bald, bassett, bat boy, cat, exeter, hairless, new hampshire, pets, ugly, ugly bat boy, vet, veterinarian, video, weekly world news
Of course, we’re using “ugly” in a nice way. Perhaps we should spell it a different way, like phat instead of fat. How about “uglee?” Something that is uglee, pronounced ug-LEEEE, is so hideous as to actually be cool; whereas ugly, pronounced UG-lee, is, well, just plain ugly with no redeeming value.
Feel free to use my newly coined hip phrase at your will. But back to the contest winners.
Above is Bella, a lab/pit bull mix adopted from the Bowling Green Warren County Humane Society (in Kentucky). Her owner, Megan Fisher, says they call this her “Cosby Sweater” and reports that she loves wearing it.
The other finalists included Kasey, who has outgrown the number being modeled above, and Landon, a Yorkie mix currently up for adoption through PPAWSS, Promoting Pet Adoptions and Welfare in Sulphur Springs (Texas).
Then there was Hot Momma, the Chinese-Crested (a breed that actually needs sweaters) who was submitted by Angela M. Shatzer of Carolina Poodle Rescue in Spartanburg, SC; and Isabel, whose owner notes she “definitely looks like a chub of sausage in this sweater.” Isabel’s not fond of the sweater, but it keeps her from rubbing the hair off her belly.
You can see all the finalists and read about them on Petfinders blog.
But be forewarned, they (the sweaters, not the dogs) are ug-LEEEEEE!
(Photos courtesy of petfinder.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 11th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: apparel, christmas, clothing, contest, dog, dog sweaters, dogs, e-cards, holidays, petfinder, sweaters, uglee, ugly, ugly sweaters