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(Photo from Karen Quigley, author and publisher)

This weekend as I was channel surfing, I chanced upon a television show on Animal Planet showcasing the most outrageous looking animals. On screen was the most pitiful house dog I’d ever seen, a Chinese Crested-Chihuahua genetic experiment gone wrong named Elwood.

Because of his Chinese Crested lineage, Elwood sports a mohawk-like strip of white hair on his head. He also has a tongue so big it can’t fit in his mouth and ears so pointy he looks like a bat. His face alone is a mishmash of features that aren’t so bad individually, but look very awkward next to each other. Without question, Elwood is one funny looking dog. In fact in 2007, he was named World’s Ugliest Dog in an annual contest held in California.


 

Ironically, though, I don’t think Elwood is ugly at all. Weird, yes, but not hideous. In a way, I even find him cute—perhaps in the same way that I find my shih tzu Papi’s occasional “amoy aso” odor comforting whenever I come home.

But what is truly beautiful about the story of this so-called ugly dog is that Elwood’s breeder was supposed to end his life because “he was too ugly to sell,” according to Elwood’s bio. Luckily, he was adopted at nine months. Karen, his owner, even said it was “love at first sight.” She even wrote a children’s book, Everyone Loves Elwood, teaching kids that it’s all right to be different.

Elwood’s story may not be an Ugly Duckling fairytale, with Elwood growing into a show quality dog. But I believe what made him transform into a charming little being was the love and care that his owner gave him—as though he was the cutest dog that ever lived. If I saw Elwood wandering in the street, I would be overwhelmed with pity the way I am whenever I see an unloved galis-infested stray. But because Elwood was blessed to be adopted despite his looks, he would be the first to tell you—nay, bark to you—that there’s nothing to feel sorry for.

Besides, I don’t believe there are ugly dogs. There are only unloved ones.
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