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On Friday, June 21st, 2013, the folks at the annual Sonoma-Marin Fair in California celebrated the 25th anniversary of a rather unusual contest - One that crowns the 'World's Ugliest Dog'! And while in most settings a title like this would be considered insulting here, it is applauded by both the dog owners who come from all over the world and, the visitors that come to cheer the contestants.
To mark this special anniversary, this year's fair was themed 'Dog Days of Summer''. Among the things featured, was an exhibit featuring the contestants and winners from the last 25 years, as well as, a 'meet and greet' opportunity with this year's contenders and a chance to have them 'Paw-togpraph' the latest edition of the 'World's Ugliest Dog' book.
As for the winner? Unlike last year, when he had flown in all the way from London, England, this year's title winner was Chico, California resident Walle, who beat out 29 other equally 'ugly contestants'. The refreshing part was that Walle, who happened to be a last-minute entrant, is not a nearly hairless, Chinese Crested Chihuahua or a mix of both breeds, that have dominated the contest for many years now. Instead, he is a mutt mix - part beagle, part basset, and part boxer.
The four-year-old impressed the judges with his giant head, humped back and wacky waddle - As one of them succinctly put it - He looked as though he had been photo-shopped with pieces from various dogs and maybe a few other animals - Exactly the kind of natural 'ugliness' they were looking for!
Along with the title, the first time entrant received a cash prize of $1,500 USD, a large trophy, as well as, scheduled appearances on NBC's Weekend Today on Sunday, the Today Show on Monday and the Jimmy Kimmel Show on Wednesday.
Though the competition may seem derogatory, it is a fun event organized by an animal psychiatrist who makes sure all the entrants are healthy. It is also important to remember that the contestants come from homes where they are loved and pampered because of their rather unusual looks - After all, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!"
Resources: sonoma-marinfair.org, abcnews.go.com,cbsnews.com,dailymail.co.uk