This is Peanut, the World’s Ugliest Dog, crowned Friday at the Petaluma, Sonoma-Marin Fair in California. Peanut beat out a formidable lineup of ambiguously bred dogs to take the title and the $1,500 prize. Move over Quasi Modo the humpback hound and step aside the deformed, the 3-legged and the bug-eyed opponents. As one reporter from The Press Democrat said:
With teeth protruding like a sea monster’s, a tail one judge likened to a stick of lipstick, and eyelids that never close, Peanut is the stuff nightmares are made of.
Pretty or ugly, dogs just want to be loved. People too. Not every dog is born with perfect pedigree, and while a dog of less than American Kennel Club standards may not win ribbons and trophies he can certainly win the love and loyalty of a family.
More heartbreaking yet, are dogs that started out with average looks, and through some nightmare of misfortune have been disfigured. Such is the case with Peanut.
Don’t let Peanut’s freaky exterior fool you. This monster of a doggie is a real life reminder to not judge a book by its cover. Abandoned, badly injured in a fire which burned off his lips and eyelids, this poor pup went more than 9-months frightening off would-be adoptive families at the shelter before being rescued by its big-hearted North Carolina owner, Holly Chandler.
Stereotypically known for the unhealthy pursuit of exterior perfection by the likes of plastic surgeons, tanning salons, injectables and enhancements of all kinds, Californians seem least likely to celebrate ugliness in a dog show. Yet, the annual tradition of awarding the World’s Ugliest Dog has been celebrated here since the 1970s.
In this age of anti-bullying, a similar contest for ugly people would be unthinkable. If it weren’t for an altruistic cause in the animal world, it could easily be reproachable for dogs to. Drawing attention to survivors like Peanut who lucked into an adoptive and loving family is exactly what this “Ugly” contest is all about.
Animal Planet and The Humane Society collaborate for this event to amplify publicity and spread the message to fight animal abuse and promote pet rescue from animal shelters. All the contestants have a letter from their home veterinarian certifying that they are healthy and well cared for by their owners. Ugly dogs are genetically or circumstantially unattractive, not neglected or mistreated.
As aesthetically displeasing as a lolling tongue or unruly dreadlocks may be, it really is the inside that counts. For people too. Ultimately, California may be the ideal place to showcase this message of acceptance as it speaks so pointedly to both the World’s Ugliest Dog, and to all those chasing the fountain of youth and physical perfection. May we all be so lucky to get a clean bill of health from the doctor, and have a loving home.