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Beautiful Ugly Dog

Giugno 2018
A giugno un centinaio di cani si recano insieme ai loro padroni a Petulama, in California, dove ha luogo uno dei più prestigiosi eventi canini al mondo.

di Alex Phillips

File audio:

Dog competition
Dog competition
Ugly dog
Ugly dog

Speaker: Molly Malcolm (American accent)


Unlike conservative dog shows that demand that participants have a pedigree, mixed breed dogs or ‘mutts’ triumph at the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. Celebrated every June in Petulama, California, anyone in the world can enter their pet, but to be selected, a dog must have a ‘unique’ appearance.  


Everything discouraged at traditional beauty contests is a bonus here: advanced age, skin conditions, disabilities, health issues, deformed bodies, irregular teeth and protruding tongues. Gender is irrelevant. A strange, even frightening facial expression can get a dog in the final. But it is important that the dog is up to date on vaccinations.


The dog must impress in sections that include a fashion show and a red carpet walk. The top three winners receive a trophy, a cash prize and notoriety. The first place winner receives a grand prize of fifteen hundred dollars and travels to New York for television appearances. This can lead to a glamorous career: eight-time winner Rascal has starred in four horror films. He has appeared in a feature article in People magazine and on The Tonight Show. He has his own fashion line in dog leashes. A philanthropist, much of the money he has made has been donated to animal charities.


To enter the competition, dog owners must provide a biography of their pets, many of which were adopted from dog shelters. A special award is given to the dog with the most inspiring life story. Past winners include Precious, a half-blind Chihuahua mix trained to monitor smells and alert her owner, a disabled war veteran, of danger. Chihuahuas are popular finalists, but recent years have seen creative choices: in 2016, Quasi Moto, a pit bull-Dutch shepherd mix that looks like a hyena, won first prize. Last year’s winner was a Neapolitan mastiff called Martha: a drooling, gassy dog, Martha’s misanthropic attitude to the other contestants and refusal to show off for audiences impressed voters.


While the contest has been running since the 1970s, its increasing prestige and the democratic use of the internet for voting has brought unwanted attention. In 2006, the contest was immersed in scandal when its online voting page was hacked and forty thousand votes deleted. Organisers responded quickly and efficiently by having an entire revote.  


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Pet. Animale domestico. Oltre a far riferimento a un animale da compagnia, pet si usa anche come aggettivo con il significato di ‘preferito’ o per esprimere una predilezione per qualcosa – “This is my pet project”, “Questo è il mio progetto preferito” –, e come verbo, to pet, significa ‘accarezzare’ o ‘coccolare’.

A half-blind Chihuahua mix. Un incrocio di chihuahua mezzo cieco.
A mix è ‘un incrocio’. Precious, il cane dell’articolo, è un mezzo chihuahua, una razza di piccole dimensioni che risale alla civiltà azteca, e che prende il nome dallo stato messicano di Chihuahua.