LET'S TALK REALITY: If you were tasked with choosing the World's Ugliest Dog, the victor of the annual headline-garnering competition at the Sonoma Marin Fair, could you do it? Or would you put a big, bold check-mark next to every pup's name, proclaiming each one a winner? Yeah, we all kind of feel that way. Each canine contestant entered in the contest is so endearing, and so unique -- a famously overused word, except in this instance -- that audience members feel the urge to gather them all up, close, and shower each last Lassie and Fido with a shower of congratulatory kisses. And they do deserve hearty congratulations, each one of those personality-showy, on-the-stage tail-waggers. After all, their fame and renown helps other funkier hounds find homes and forever love, thanks in part to the message inherent in the contest: A dog's heart is true, even though their three front teeth point in opposite directions and their fur grows in odd little sprouts. Everyone can see the affection between the pups and their humans, and those moving photos shall go out around the world following the Friday, June 26 competition in Petaluma. There was a time for people to enter their own pooches, but the voting time is nigh: Will you go with Icky, Zoomer, Josie, Rue, or the caboodle of other smoochable superstars who dot the 2015 roster, a parade of beautiful bowwows if there ever was one?
OKAY, WE'RE GETTING A BIT POETIC... because they're all way, way cute. Do some look as though they deserve a starring role as a goblin the next film from the Jim Henson Company? Perhaps. Do some seem as though they might have arrived straight from Hogwarts, bearing magic and goodwill? Absolutely. Do you want to vote for every single one? Yes, as we mentioned before, you do. Take time to read each dog's story on the voting page, and prepare to be moved: Many an owner rescued a pup who didn't seem to have a hope. If this oh-so-popular Petaluma happening shows us anything, it is that countless canines are waiting for a chance to love some lifelong humans, people who won't mind a bit if the pup's tail is a bit too curly or their pointy ears flop backwards. Vive la différence is the marvelous message of this long-running competition, a sweet showdown that's been around Petaluma for over a half century.