How ugly is your dog?
Most people would take immediate offense to that question, but in the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, held every year at the Sonoma-Marin Fair, that question is the whole point. If you want to win, your dog has to be as ugly as possible.
It’s not as cruel as it might sound at first. The contest is done out of love for those dogs who don’t match the greeting-card ideal of what an adorable, loving dog should be. A lot of them are rescues that started out in puppy mills and shelters, and might have wound up on a euthanizing table had their owners not been able to see beauty of a somewhat less conventional kind in them.
The contest has been giving homely dogs their day for 25 years, and this year’s reckoning is coming up this Friday. If you have an opinion on which dog deserves to be crowned as the World’s Ugliest Dog for 2014, there’s still time to make your voice heard. Until 10 p.m. Pacific Time tomorrow (Thursday, June 19), you can vote online at the Sonoma-Marin Fair’s website.
There’s some pretty stiff competition, aesthetically speaking, but as of this writing, there’s one clear leader in the voting: a dog named Peanut, who came to the contest from North Carolina. As of right now, Peanut has a solid lead of 1,154 votes, well ahead of his nearest competitor, who has a little more than 250.
Peanut is indeed ugly, but there’s a heartbreaking story behind his appearance. According to his owner, Holly Chandler, Peanut’s former owners set him on fire, scorching him from head to tail. He can’t close his eyes because his eyelids were burned off. His lips were also burned off in the fire, giving him a somewhat aggressive appearance because his teeth are always bared.
Faith, who’s trotting in at a distant second to Peanut, has made a whole career out of being ugly. Afflicted with an autoimmune disease that has caused her to lose 11 teeth and the hair over much of her body, Faith has a web page and Twitter feed, and a children’s book about her adventures has been written by her owner.
Of course, no discussion of ugly dogs would be complete without taking a moment to remember Elwood, the Chinese Crested who won the 2007 contest and had a devoted following for the rest of his life. Elwood died last Thanksgiving, but he will be remembered through a scholarship for special needs children that his owner, Karen Quigley, is working to establish.
The contest is less about mocking ugly dogs than it is about remembering and valuing the bond between humans and their pets, so feel free to go vote for the ugly dog of your choice.
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