The World’s Ugliest Dog Competition
By Mimi Rohr/ Gamma
The World’s Ugliest Dog is Gus, a Chinese Crested purebred, with three legs and one eye. A cancer survivor, this pooch is truly ugly by international standards. The award was bestowed upon Gus and his owners Jeanenne and Janey Teed of St. Petersburg, Florida at the 20th annual World’s Ugliest Dog competition at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair, in Petaluma, CA.

Some 13 canines vied for the title, some past winners, alongside some new faces. “There’s a lot of competition. There are a lot of new dogs new faces and new looks,” said Karen Quigley, owner of Elwood, the 2007 winner.

Following Elwood’s 2007 win, he became a spokes dog for homeless pets, earning $12,000 for the cause. The pooch is also the subject of a children’s book focusing on the idea that it is okay to be different. “Everyone loves Elwood. Just because your different, doesn’t make you unlovable,” said Quigley.

Past winners have been launched to fame after being crowned the World’s Ugliest Dog, appearing on popular American talk shows, including Jay Leno, The Morning Show and Barbara Walters, to name a few.

This year’s champion, Gus and his family hope to spread the message about cancer survival and early detection. The nine year old Chinese Crested was diagnosed with skin cancer 18 months ago. The ravages of the disease have left Gus minus one leg, and one eye, and a whopping $5,000 bill for the surgery and chemotherapy. With an additional $5,000 bill in the pipeline if the family opts to pursue the radiation Gus needs to complete his treatment.

“This was our motivation for coming here,” said Jeanenne Teed. “We are hoping for a white knight” (a philanthropy minded individual person or organization to help with the medical expenses.)

Several of the contestants have been saved from euthanasia. Both Elwood and the 2006 winner Archie, a Chinese Crested were spared death by their charitable owners willingness to share their lives with the esthetically challenged animals.

Heather Peoples, Archie’s owner agreed to adopt Archie sight unseen. “What’s that?” she asked when she first laid eyes on Archie. The animal shelter ended up paying her to adopt him.

Six blissful years later Peoples message is: “if you adopt a shelter dog, this is what you get. You don’t need to get the perfect dog. You can do great things with a shelter dog.”

Elwood was also scheduled to be euthanized by his breeder because she thought he was too ugly to be sold. Seeing his inner beauty, Quigley and her boyfriend rescued Elwood. Quigley balked when her girlfriend entered Elwood in the contest and only agreed to let him compete when she learned that the message of the contest was that their really is no ugly dog. “To tell you the truth, I was surprised when he won. I think he’s really cute.”

This year, Elwood took home the Munchkin's Congeniality Award, a special award commemorating the late Maya, the winner of the Ugliest Dog in Petaluma Award in 2005.

This year’s ugliest dog Gus, will take home $1,000 in prize money and two gigantic trophies, one for the Ugliest Dog in Petaluma, and one for the World’s Ugliest Dog. “We made it our goal to get Gus here.” said Teed, “Whatever’s next, will come.”

Mimi Rohr

Mimi Rohr © 2008