Disabled rescue dog Scooter triumphs in 2023 ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ contest

A 7-year-old Chinese Crested dog named Scooter is celebrating after winning a major honor: he was named the winner in this year’s “World’s Ugliest Dog” contest.

That may sound a little cruel, but the event, held which has been held annually at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California for nearly 50 years, is not meant to mock but to celebrate “ugly” dogs, celebrating “the imperfections that make all dogs special and unique,” while also advocating for the adoption of these less-conventionally-cute dogs.

“The contest speaks to the importance of advocating for the adoration of all animals and the benefits of adopting,” their press release says. “Many of the contestant dogs have been rescued from shelters and puppy mills, to find loving homes in the hands of those willing to adopt.”

While many dogs competed for the title of “ugliest,” it was Scooter who triumphed — an exciting victory for a dog who almost didn’t survive at all.

According to his bio, Scooter was born with two deformed hind legs, making him unable to walk on his own. His breeder brought him to the vet to be euthanized, but thankfully he was saved by a the rescue group Saving Animals from Euthanasia and adopted by member Linda Celeste Elmquist.

“Today Scooter is not only surviving but thriving,” his rescuers wrote. “He has no idea that he is any different from any other dog.” Scooter has been able to get around on two feet, and thanks to the fundraising of rescue groups he got his own wheel cart, allowing him new freedom and mobility.

With his wild gray hair and perpetually stuck-out tongue, Scooter may not be the most conventionally cute dog in the world, but his upbeat attitude in the face of adversity clearly won the hearts of judges.

“From the second he sits his hairless little booty and backward legs on your lap, you feel his warm, huggable power to change the meaning of the word ugly!” NBC’s Gadi Schwartz, a judge in the competition, told Today. “He leaves you feeling love and inspiration for the differences, difficulties, perseverance and happiness that he radiates like a little heater!”

“In the cutest way possible, he kind of reminds me of a hairy hippopotamus,” judge Catherine Liang told the New York Times.

Scooter took first place, beating out a 7-year-old Pekingeses named Wild Thang who came in second place, and deaf and blind rescue Chihuahua Harold Bartholomew, who won third place and the “Spirit Award.”

Last year, the top prize went to a rescued Chihuahua mix named Mr. Happy Face.

All dogs are beautiful and worth celebrating, even the “ugly” ones. Scooter is one incredible dog — congrats on your big win! ❤️🐾

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