Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Ugliest Dogs

These poor dogs need a lawyer

It was a tail-waggin' good time at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair, where 12 pooches let the fur fly at the 20th annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest. Gus - a three-legged, one-eyed Chinese Crested, won $1,600 in prizes. Of course, many unfamiliar with the event might wonder why anyone would want their pet to win such a twisted competition.

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.

Like Gus, Princess Chelsea is a Chinese Crested, a breed that has the dubious honor of performing very well at the World's Ugliest Dog Contest over the past 20 years. Robert Rond, Chelsea's owner, is from Fairfield, Calif.

Elwood, a Chihuahua/Chinese Crested mix, was the 2007 winner of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest. He was rescued by the SPCA, and lives with Karen Quigley, his owner, in Sewell, N.J.

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