By: Hunter Ding
Dogs generally aren’t celebrated for their ugliness. They’re known instead for loyalty, courage, and occasionally their savageness. However, every year for almost fifty years there has been an Ugliest Dog Contest in Petaluma, California as part of the Sonoma-Marin fair. The event is meant to celebrate dogs’ unusual characteristics and encourage the adoption of animals in need. And for the 2023 contest, a Chinese Crested dog named Scooter won.
When he was a puppy, Scooter’s future seemed quite bleak. His two back legs faced backward, making it impossible to walk. However, he earned the ability to walk on his front legs, and though it is exhausting, it allowed him to move. Recently, a wheeled cart that attaches to his rear end has been implemented, allowing for far easier movement. Due to his disabilities, he was saved by the SAFE (Saving Animals From Euthanasia) rescue group. He has a lightly feral nature, as he likes to bark fiercely at other dogs regardless of their larger size. However, “He’s full of self-confidence and he loves everybody. He just has a really good heart. He’s a good doggie,” says his owner, Linda Elmquist. His backstory and personality were parts of his victory, though his appearance wasn’t exactly detrimental to his victory.
Scooter’s body is completely hairless, with a wispy mane of white hair. It didn’t hurt either that at least ten Chinese Crested dogs won the contest over the years– about twenty percent.
The purpose of the contest is not to judge dogs for being unattractive. It is an event to commemorate the imperfection of some dogs and an ideal that they probably mean to translate into actual virtues. When Scooter was crowned the World’s Ugliest Dog, his owner knew that it meant more than being simply the most hideous. She acknowledges that every deformity in physicality and appearance is a battle fought and won. “ I was just so happy because I know he will represent really well the undertrodden, the ugly, the blemished,” noted Elmquist on TODAY.