Scooter is a seven-year-old Chinese Crested dog. His body is hairless, but he has a thin mane of spiky white hair on his head. His rear legs face backward, and his tongue hangs out of his mouth constantly. Scooter’s special looks won him the 2023 World’s Ugliest Dog contest.
The World’s Ugliest Dog contest has been running for almost 50 years. It’s held in Petaluma, California as part of the Sonoma-Marin fair. The contest title may not sound very nice, but it isn’t at all about making fun of ugly dogs. Instead, the event celebrates unusual dogs. It’s also meant to encourage people to adopt dogs that need a loving home.
Scooter is certainly unusual. One of the contest’s judges described Scooter like this: “In the cutest way possible, he kind of reminds me of a hairy hippopotamus.”
Scooter may be a star now, but things didn’t always look so good for him. When he was a puppy, his life was at risk because of his rear legs. He was born with his rear legs facing backward, making them useless for walking. But a volunteer from a group that works to protect animals thought Scooter might just make it in spite of his back legs.
The volunteer was right. Before too long, Scooter learned an incredible trick: he learned to walk by balancing on his two front legs. He can even jump to get up on a curb or to climb steps.
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But walking on his front legs is tiring. So when he needs a break, he rests on his bottom. Recently, Scooter was given a special tool that makes his life a lot easier – a cart with wheels that attaches to his rear end. Using the cart, Scooter can get around quickly.
Linda Elmquist, who adopted Scooter, says he has no idea that he is different from other dogs. She says he sometimes barks at much bigger dogs, and doesn’t seem at all worried about the size difference. But in general, she says, Scooter is friendly with just about everyone.
Scooter certainly impressed the judges of the ugly dog contest. He took first place, which came with $1,500 and a trophy. One of the judges, Gaudi Schwartz, says Scooter has a “warm, huggable power to change the meaning of the word ugly.”
Scooter’s attitude and story are clearly part of the reason that he won the prize. But it didn’t hurt that he is a Chinese Crested. Since 2000, 10 winners of the World’s Ugliest Dog contest have been Chinese Crested dogs.
The “World’s Ugliest Dog” contest started back in the 1970s. A man named Ross Smith thought it would be a fun way to raise money for a good cause. The event is very different from most dog contests which often focus on special skills or the dog’s family history. Instead, this contest is meant to show that every dog, no matter what it looks like, deserves love and a good home.
For this year, at least, no dog represents those ideas better than Scooter.
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