By: Johanna Wu
Scooter, a 7-year-old Chinese Crested dog, has a hairless body with a thin mane of fuzzy spikes covering his head. His rear legs face backward and his tongue is usually dangling outside his mouth. These special characteristics made Scooter win the 2023’s World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.
The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest has been running since 1970. It is held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. The title of the contest doesn’t sound very nice, but this contest isn’t about making fun of dogs. Ross Smith, the man who started this contest, thought it would be a fun way to raise money and help dogs find a loving family. The event is very different from most dog contests, which often focus on special skills or the dog’s family history. This event celebrates unusual-looking dogs and encourages people to adopt dogs that need a loving home.
Scooter recently won first place, which came with a $1,500 prize and a trophy. Scooter definitely impressed the judges. “In the cutest way possible, he kind of reminds me of a hairy hippopotamus,” one of the judges said.
Even though he’s having an amazing life now, things weren’t always great for him. He was born with his rear legs facing backwards, so Scooter couldn’t use them for walking and his life was at risk because of it. A volunteer from a group that works to protect animals wasn’t going to give up and thought that maybe Scooter might just make it even with his backwards back legs.
The volunteer was right. Scooter learned an incredible trick: he figured out how to walk by balancing on his two front legs. When he wants to get up on a curb or climb steps, he can jump. Scooter now also has a tool with wheels that attaches to his rear end to make it less tiring for him to walk.
Scooter was adopted by Linda Elmquist, who says that Scooter has no idea that he is different from other dogs. He barks at dogs that are bigger than him and is always very friendly.
Because of Scooter’s special looks and his story, he won first in 2023’s World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. One judge, Gaudi Schwartz, said Scooter has a “warm, huggable power to change the meaning of the word ugly.” Scooter will continue to brighten up everyone’s day and give courage to those who need it.