Ugliest mutt laps up the limelight

Not all agree with the title.

Posted: July 04, 2007

Life changed for Karen Quigley and her dog Elwood when the pooch was named the World's Ugliest Dog.

Since Elwood won the title at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif., on June 22, they've been on NBC and CNN, and the dog's image has popped up on TV shows and Web sites around the world. Radio hosts in Toronto, Chicago and Sacramento have arranged morning talk-show appearances.

What the radio listeners can't see is this: a 2-year-old Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix, dark-colored and hairless, except for some fur on the end of his tail and a tuft of gray hair on his forehead that resembles a mohawk. Beady eyes bulge out of his small face, earning him the nicknames "Yoda" and "E.T."

A long tongue constantly hangs out of the left side of his mouth, since he is missing teeth on that side to hold it in, Quigley said. And although his tiny body shakes periodically and he often sniffles as if his nose is congested, a veterinarian has said he is "perfectly healthy," Quigley said.

The media attention started as soon as Elwood and Quigley returned to their home in Washington Township the day after the mutt claimed his prize.

Quigley, who wore a black hat with "Elwood's Mom" written out in yellow letters when she accepted the award with Elwood, said she got home at 11 p.m. on Saturday, the day after the win, and was in a limousine with him at 5 a.m. the next morning on the way to New York City to appear on Weekend Today.

Later that day, the pair returned to South Jersey for an interview with a local TV station, but by 2 p.m., they were on the road again, headed back to New York for a CNN taping.

Elwood is scheduled to make an appearance on The View on July 20.

"It's happening so fast," Quigley said. "My phone [used to] ring once a week - now it rings once every hour."

Nine-year-old Shannon Slough, who was visiting Elwood with her mother, a Washington Township mayor's aide, on Monday, didn't think the dog's new title was really accurate.

"He's not ugly, he's cute," she said.

Elwood, Quigley said, loves all the attention.

"He's a little bit of a ham," Quigley said. "He gets like 50 kisses a day."

And when he's photographed, he likes to put his face all the way up to the camera lens, she said.

Elwood has gotten used to having people around him all the time.

"If I leave the house without him, he's not happy," she said. "He thinks he's going everywhere with me, especially after the contest."

Quigley adopted Elwood about a year and a half ago, after her boyfriend, who works for New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, came across him while investigating a case.

The previous owner, a Camden County woman, saved Elwood from being euthanized - a fate his breeder decided for him because she thought he was too ugly to sell - but had more than 12 other dogs and was forced to give up Elwood.

Quigley couldn't have been happier to adopt him.

"I'm the third person to have him, and this is his last and final home," she said.

Quigley chose his name in honor of a friend's late greyhound named Elwood, whose tongue also constantly hung out of his mouth, she said.

He won the title last month at the 19th annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest in California. The award included a large trophy and a $1,600 prize, which Quigley said helped pay her traveling expenses.

And while Elwood may be known as the World's Ugliest Dog, Quigley said almost everyone he meets decides he isn't as ugly as the title implies.

"In five minutes," she said, he can "go from ugly to cute."

People realize that he is "really beautiful underneath" once they discover how friendly and agreeable he is, she said.

That is the message she hopes Elwood conveys with his time in the spotlight.

"It's OK to be different," she said, "and if someone adopts a homeless dog [after seeing Elwood], it's icing on the cake."


See for Yourself

If you want to catch a glimpse of Elwood, look for him today in:

Riverton Borough - 10 a.m. parade, beginning at the corner of Bank and Main Streets. After the parade, make a $2 donation and have your picture taken with Elwood at Riverton Memorial Park (Broad and Cedar streets) between 11:30 am and 1:30 p.m. The money will go to West Jersey Volunteers for Animals, a group that provides medical care and foster homes for cats and dogs.

Washington Township - 6:30 p.m. parade, starting at Washington Township High School (519 Hurffville-Cross Keys Road)


Contact staff writer Samuel Dangremond at 856-779-3917 or sdangremond@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|