What makes Gus and many of the other winners stand out is that they are survivors. Many were abandoned or neglected before being adopted by people who love dogs and usually have several dogs whom they have rescued. Gus lost a leg to skin cancer, and an eye to a fight with a tomcat.
Jeanenne Teed of St. Petersburg found Gus after hearing that he'd been discovered in a crate in a garage near their home. She and her 16-year-old daughter, Janey, care for him. “I’m just in shock," Jeanenne said, after the contest. "We came so far and are so happy that we can put the winnings towards Gus’ radiation treatment.”
Animal Planet host Beth Ostrosky handed out the prized (and the kisses). Here, she lays a smooch on Rascal, the 2002 winner. Rascal comes from ugly dog royalty. His grandfather, Chi-Chi, won the event seven times, and his mother and grandmother -- Mai Tai and Lady Pink -- were also past winners.
Entrants came to the California contest from across the country, including Florida, New Jersey, and Arizona. Winners are chosen from both a pedigree class and a mutt class. Then, the best of each of those classes square off against each other. Finally, 2008's top dog, meets against past winners in the "Ring of Champions" round.