Toss him the ugly stick!
A beagle/basset/boxer mix named Walle ran off with the top prize at Friday’s 25th annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, the marquee event at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif.
The 4-year-old dog’s unusually large head, hump back, and duck-like waddle – courtesy of extremely short legs – all helped him nab the coveted title, which includes $1,500 and a trophy.
Did we mention he runs sideways?
The dog’s owner, Tammie Barbee, a hairdresser from Chico, Calif., adopted the pooch four years ago from a friend whose dog had a litter of puppies – puppies who all picked on Walle, the epitome of a runt.
“His head has always been bigger than his body,” Barbee told PEOPLE. “Whenever people walk up to him they’re always like, ‘That dog is not right.’”
Comments like that prompted her to enter the annual contest, minutes before closing time on Friday, even though she doesn’t really think he’s unpleasant to look at.
“He’s an amazing dog,” said the mother of three. “I feel like he’s one of my kids. I don’t feel like he’s any different.”
The show’s judges saw something special and selected the mutt from 29 other canine contenders, many of whom were Chinese cresteds, a contest favorite. Last year’s winner was a British import, an 8-year-old Chinese crested named Mugly.
Whatever this winner lacks in looks, he makes up for in character. “He has a big personality,” Barbee added. “He wants to please people.”