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World's Ugliest Dog Contest awards underdogs' inner beauty

Rascal, left, a Chinese Crest, held by Dane Andrew of Sunnyvale, Calif., meets Chase, right, a Chinese Crested Harke, held by Storm Shayler, right, of Britain, before the start of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. AP/Eric Risberg

PETALUMA, Calif. — The homely hounds and their humans arrived hours before the show to socialize and size up the competition at the World's Ugliest Dog Contest Friday, where dog lovers celebrate the imperfections of man's best friend.

Many of the contestants are adopted. Monkey, a 6-year-old Brussel Griffon, and Icky, an 8-year-old unknown breed, were both rescued from a hoarding situation.

These dogs — some with acne, others with tongues permanently sticking out — are used to getting called ugly. But for their owners, it was love at first sight.

"He's my sexy boy," Vicky Adler, of Davis, California, said of her 8-year-old Chinese Crest named Zoomer.

At 16 years old, Moe, a Brussel Griffon pug, is this year's most senior contestant this year. He has lost his hearing and sight but his sense of smell is strong and he was enjoying all the smells the fairground offered — including funnel cakes and other fried goodies.

The pooches will face off in a red carpet walk and "Faux Paw Fashion Show." The contestants are judged on first impressions, unusual attributes, personality and audience reaction.

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A blind Chihuahua-Chinese Crested mix named Sweepee Rambo bested 16 other ugly entries in last year's competition and waddled away with $1,500, a trophy and a flight to New York with her owner for media appearances.

Besides the main crown, the Spirit Award is presented to a dog and owner who have overcome obstacles or provide service to their community, organizers said.

This is the 29th year the contest is being held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair.

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