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Toothless dog named Wild Thang just won World's Ugliest Dog contest – The Washington Post

He beat Rome — a 14-year-old pug with one eye — and Mochi, a 9-month-old chihuahua-Jack Russell terrier mix with a major underbite.
The crowd erupted in cheers, and Wild Thang — an 8-year-old Pekingese — was hoisted into the air. After several unsuccessful attempts, at long last, he had won the coveted World’s Ugliest Dog contest.
The June 21 event marked Wild Thang’s fifth time competing in the annual competition, which is held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif. In year’s past, Wild Thang — who lives in North Bend, Ore. — clinched second place a few times, but he never took home the title of World’s Ugliest Dog. This year, it was finally his time.
“If he didn’t win, I wouldn’t have cared. I would go again next year because I just want to support the cause,” said Ann Lewis, Wild Thang’s owner.
The purpose of the World’s Ugliest Dog contest is to celebrate imperfections and advocate for animal adoptions. According to the contest website, “the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest has been a testament that the pedigree does not define the pet.”
“We really want to shine a light on advocating for adoption, and bringing home a pet that doesn’t necessarily fit the norm,” said Mandy Clendenen, the chief executive officer of the Sonoma-Marin Fair. “Even though something may be ugly in the eye of the beholder, it’s beautiful to others.”
The World’s Ugliest Dog contest started about 50 years ago as part of the four-day fair, which also features a carnival, a car show, farm “Olympics” and other activities. About 39,000 people showed up this year, and the dog contest was among the most popular attractions.
Animal rescue groups attend the contest to raise awareness and encourage adoptions.
The contest runs for about an hour and a half and includes a red carpet walk, as well as a period to interact with the judges. This year’s eight contestants were each presented to the crowd while their biography was read. Wild Thang was described as a “glugly” guy — glamorous and ugly.
After intense deliberation, a panel of judges — including Gadi Schwartz, a correspondent for NBC News, and Fiona Ma, California’s state treasurer — picked Wild Thang as the winner.
“Wild Thang and Ann have been there for a number of years, and I think that persistence and never-give-up attitude really helped and pushed them over the edge this year,” said Clendenen.
He beat Rome — a 14-year-old pug with one eye — and Mochi, a 9-month-old chihuahua-Jack Russell terrier mix with a major underbite. Other contestants included Daisy Mae, a thin-haired 14-year-old pup described as “the reigning queen of unconventional beauty,” and Ozzy, a 10-year-old terrier mix with bedhead.
Wild Thang contracted distemper — a serious and contagious canine disease — as a puppy. He survived because he had been vaccinated, Lewis said, but the virus affected his teeth.
“Because his teeth never grew in, his tongue sticks out,” Lewis said, adding that she named him Wild Thang “because of his crazy hair.”
“He’s a little guy, but he looks huge because he’s all hair,” she said.
Wild Thang is both confident and healthy. “He is a happy dog,” Lewis added. “His tail is always going.”
Lewis learned about the contest five years ago, after someone saw Wild Thang and said: “That’s the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen, you should enter him in the contest.” At the time, Lewis and her husband were living in Los Angeles. They moved to Oregon in 2020.
“The whole objective of the ugly dog contest is to promote that dogs don’t have to look perfect to be lovable,” said Lewis. “Because of that, I decided I was just going to continue to support it.”
Plus, she said, “the other ugly dog owners are awesome. It’s nice to hang around people who are positive.”
Although Wild Thang is not a rescue dog, Lewis is active in the rescue community, she said, and has fostered and rehomed more than 50 pups over the years.
“That’s my purpose,” said Lewis, adding that she offers free dog training classes to people, and uses Wild Thang’s story to reinforce the importance of pet vaccines.
“We’re constantly pushing that,” said Lewis, who manages Wild Thang’s Instagram account.
The contest was sponsored by Mug Root Beer, and as the top winner, Wild Thang took home $5,000. The second-place prize was $3,000 and the third-place winner got $2,000.
Lewis said she will donate a portion of the funds to Friends of Coos County Animals, a local shelter, and will use the rest to cover the travel expenses associated with attending the fair.
Since winning the contest, Wild Thang has achieved celebrity status.
At the airport on their way home, “he was very much recognized,” Lewis said. “Everybody had to get their picture taken with him and when they did they would stick their tongue out.”
Hendrix Yancey, 12, sat next to Wild Thang, who was in a carrier, on a flight from Houston to New York on June 23.
“I look over and I just see this cute ball of fluff,” said Hendrix, an actress who appeared in “Stranger Things.”
“His little tongue was sticking out,” she said.
Hendrix went up to Lewis after the flight and asked for a photo with Wild Thang. That’s when she learned he was just crowned the world’s ugliest dog.
“I got to hold him and he was so sweet and fluffy and amazing,” said Hendrix. “I don’t think he’s the ugliest dog, I think he’s the cutest dog.”
Wild Thang seemed tickled by the attention.
“He loves people,” Lewis said. “He couldn’t be happier.”
Lewis hopes Wild Thang serves as a reminder that appearances aren’t the most important thing.
“Even imperfect dogs can be perfect,” she said.


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