Sweeties of Sonoma Marin: Ugliest Dog Contest

Unique pups get the prizes, and lots of love, in Petaluma.

CANINE COOS: The start of summer in Sonoma County can mean a lot of things. Longer afternoons and lengthier evenings, which help alfresco foodies enjoy later meals outdoors. Nice weather is afoot, so the wearing of sundresses and shorts and seersucker and cooler clothes is the thing. And over in Petaluma, some of the best-known, most beloved barkers to be found anywhere take the stage, garnering acclaim, affections, and new Facebook friends along the way. We speak of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest, a competition that has made the Sonoma-Marin Fair known not just within the region but around the globe. That's because dogs from places quite far from Petaluma -- and closer by, too -- have traveled to the start-of-summer fair, with their owners, to see if they've been chosen as, yes, the World's Ugliest Dog.

FACEBOOK FIDOS: It isn't, nor has it ever been, a point-and-pity affair; just about everyone who sees every pup vows they want to take each one of 'em home. And past participants like Quasi Modo have an impressive amount of online human friends, those fans who have to know more about the sweet furry faces seen in Petaluma. And seen on the news, too, of course; the World's Ugliest Dog is an event that's regularly reported on in several countries and across the United States.

COULD YOUR CUTIE... compete? Is there something unique and individual about his fuzzy hair, his snaggly teeth, his whole beautiful presence? The entry form is up now on the Sonoma-Marin Fair site. Personality and audience interaction are considered by judges, so if you have a ham on your hands, she could take first place. And consider that your canine would likely inspire humans to adopt and love animals that have their own offbeat thing going on. All dogs are kissable, regardless if they've got some funny patches of hair on their cheek or strange spots; this long-running fair is about elevating the unusual and celebrating each and every dog's fabulous distinctiveness.

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