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Should Rosie the Chihuahua Enter an Ugly Dog Contest?

Could it increase awareness of heartbreaking breeding practices, which caused Rosie's afflictions? Or is it simply cruel? Let us know what you think.

 |  Aug 6th 2012  |   46 Contributions


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And so, it turns out, is ugliness.

In June we brought you the heartbreaking story of a slew of dogs rescued from a dog hoarder in the Los Angeles area. Among them was a Chihuahua named Rosie. Only you couldn't tell she was a Chihuahua. You could barely tell she was a dog back then.

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Rosie, before she was rescued.

Rosie, the product of inbreeding at the hoarder's house, could barely maneuver her tiny, underweight body more than a few inches because of severe deformities, including extreme scoliosis and fused leg bones. Her snout was misshapen, her mouth and jaws were plagued by an insanely bad overbite, her light blue eyes wore a constantly startled look, and her almost-fur-free body was an odd shade of pinkish-purple. 

Since then, love and tremendous care from Cinnamon Muhlbauer, who took in Rosie within hours of her rescue and has dedicated her heart and every spare moment to Rosie, has made a world of difference. (Rosie is one of many rescue animals lucky enough to be in Muhlbauer's care in the Malibu mountains area.)

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Rosie and her doting mom, Cinnamon Muhlbauer.

Rosie's terrible demodectic mange has greatly improved, and she's filling out nicely. She's able to get around a bit more, although she's hobbled by her physical limitations. Her jaw deformity and the features that contributed to her unusual looks haven't gone away. But there's something different these days: a spark that was missing before, and signs of joy, of just plain doggyness. She wags, she play-growls, she melts when Muhlbauer gives her attention. There's life and happiness where there was just fear and confusion before.

One idea has been proposed to Muhlbauer many times: Enter Rosie in an ugly dog contest.

At first, it made Muhlbauer cringe to hear this suggestion. She didn't see Rosie as ugly. She saw her as beautiful from the start. Some people can look right into souls.

The people making these suggestions weren't doing it to try to get Rosie to be viewed as a freak. They thought it would be a good way to help pay some veterinary bills, and to create greater public awareness of the dangers of puppy mills, hoarders, and backyard breeders, and the inbreeding that's too often associated with them.

Muhlbauer was still unsure about this idea last week, so she put the question out to Rosie's 18,000 Facebook fans. The responses have been overwhelming, and all over the map.

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Rosie with a sampling of the toys she has received from some of her admirers

The majority say no way should Rosie be entered. Many fear she would be laughed at and feel humiliated. They also wrote that they feel Rosie is cute or beautiful, and definitely not ugly. Here are a few comments from this camp.

No way ... Rose is NOT ugly, she is beautiful and sweet!

Absolutely not! Just imagine how she would feel if she knew! There are a lot of mean-spirited people out there who might mock our little Princess. Only loving and gentle thoughts should be directed towards her.

There are better, non-cruel ways to get "prizes" & get her story out there. Rosie should NEVER be exploited all for the sake of a prize. Rosie has feelings & she has BEEN through enough. Shameful. I am shocked this would have even been considered.

It would be awful for people to laugh and point at Rosie -- or any dog for that matter. No prize is worth that. No one in this world, people or dogs, can help how they look.

Quite a few people were also concerned that Rosie would be put in harm's way, with all the germs and noise and the crowds.

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Rosie is an inbred Chihuahua who was rescued from a backyard breeder.

And then there are a surprising number of people who think it's a good idea. Most of them believe putting her in the public eye in this manner would help expand knowledge about terrible breeding practices. Besides, they say, Rosie would have no idea she's being thought of as ugly. A few comments from those who tell Muhlbauer to go for it:

I think it is a great idea to enter Rosie in one of those competitions. Winning the competition would expand your fan base, and you would be in a position to educate others about unethical breeding and hoarding. You could donate the prize money to a worthy cause, or to the clinic that is helping Rosie along the way. I believe that you are ready for this role!

I think she has the ugly duckling story, but now she is a swan. Why not enter her in the competition? It's not like the dogs that are entered into the competition are abused. On the other hand, they are quite pampered and loved.

Why not? However horrible the situation is, she cannot fathom embarrassment, let alone anything as complicated as exploitation. The attention can only be rejuvenating. Is there a small chance she wins, yes. Is there a strong chance other reporters pick it up and run with it because she is so unique, yes.

So now we ask you: Would you advise her loving owner to stay away from such a contest, or to throw Rosie's tiny hat into the ring? It will be interesting to see if the feedback here mirrors that on Rosie's page or not. Can't wait to read your comments!

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