Monday, April 16, 2007

Considering The World's Ugliest Dog

Yesterday Animal Planet re-aired the 2006 WORLD'S UGLIEST DOG competition. Like the Miss Universe Competition, the applicant pool is curiously limited - no applicants from outside the US for World's Ugliest Dog, no applicants from other planets for Miss Universe. You'd think at least Venus would have someone in the running. In any event, that is where the resemblance between the two competitions ends.

When you think of ugly dogs you are probably picturing a bulldog, or a chihuahua. That is unless you've see a picture of the late Sam, legendary multi-year winner of this competition.

Sam is the stuff of nightmares, Cujo would be scared away from Sam. George Romero's production company, working for 2 years nonstop, wouldn't have come up with half the dog Sam is. (Sam's widow, incidentally, took 3rd place in her category! Work it, sistah!)

Quite a few of the finalists resembled each other. They were small, hairless except for a wiry patch on the tops of their heads, and they had tongues which hung out the sides of their mouths because they lacked front teeth. They were all pure breds, of the group "Chinese Crested." And this fascinates me. Because these dogs, with their imperfections, health problems, and singular unappealing looks, have been made that way on purpose. It's literally the opposite of eugenics. "Malgenics?"

It's especially weird when you consider that there aren't a lot of rewards to owning an ugly dog. Worst case scenario is people comment on how much dogs look like their owners, but there are also extra expenses involved. For example, one dog featured on the program was almost put to sleep for her constant pain until the vet realized that a daily dose of phenobarbitol would fix the problem. Would you keep your dog if it needed more drugs than you do AND scared the neighbor's kids? Of course not, no more than you'd keep a child with those qualities.

Looking at these dogs make me glad that I have one gorgeous dog and one dog who is goofy but appealing. But if I had a hideous parody of a dog, I would love him too. Assuming I could determine a sex at all.

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