“A face only a mother could love.” That’s a phrase that’s jokingly used for people who might fall outside the supposed “norms” of human attractiveness. But did you know that dogs can suffer from such prejudice as well? These days, many dogs are bred to have a certainly aesthetic appeal, whether it’s a handsome stature, a beautiful fur coat, to be adorable as purse dogs, or other characteristics that draw people to different breeds. A prime example of this are the many dog shows held throughout the country and the world, where entrants are judged by strict standards of beauty and health. But there are dogs that are born with features that might initially make them less attractive, at least according to stereotype. Like senior dogs or dogs with certain disabilities (like being blind or deaf), so-called “ugly” dogs have to fight against a social stigma that can make them less likely to be adopted or discover their forever home. Fortunately, efforts have been made to bring ugly dogs to the public’s attention and prove they have just as much value (and love) as any other pup.
A big example is the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest, which has been held since the 1970s. Held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair, the winner of this contest receives $1,000 and a trophy (which the owner holds on their behalf, of course), with the distinction of being that year’s ugly dog champion. All entrants must be certified healthy by a vet, so that owners aren’t bringing sickly dogs or those suffering from various diseases.
The point of the contest is to let people know that even if a dog isn’t going to win any beauty pageant or show up in a “Year’s Cutest Puppies” calendar, they’re still the beloved pups that can bring joy and comfort into our lives. They’re still able to share in our lives, play with us, cheer us up, and warm our hearts.
Erin Post, CEO of the Sonoma-Marin Fair, explains it this way: “We’re proud to celebrate all dogs and pets by showing that no matter their imperfections, they are adoptable, lovable and a great addition to any family.”
In the end, remember that dogs never care what their owners (or guardians) look like. They’ll give us all the love and affection they can, in the hopes of it being returned–whether they’re considered ugly or not. It’s a good thing that true beauty isn’t skin deep!
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