<$Susan Goodwill$>

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How Many Points for Drool?

By LUKE MEREDITH, Associated Press Writer Mon Apr 24, 8:56 PM ET
DES MOINES, Iowa - To those who know her best, Hannah is the ultimate girly girl. She enjoys socializing in the neighborhood, wearing fancy outfits and pursuing a shoe fetish that would rival any Hollywood starlet.
But Hannah doesn't wear shoes — she eats them. Still, that didn't stop this 2-year old English bulldog from beating out 49 others to claim top prize in the 27th annual "Beautiful Bulldog" contest Monday.
The contest marks the beginning of the Drake Relays, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious track and field meets.
Hannah, who is white with patches of brown scattered across her squat figure, took the stage wearing a Drake cheerleaders' outfit and shocked the crowd by taking "top dog" honors over Porterhouse, a brown male from St. Paul, Minn., who dressed like a construction worker — complete with tool belt and hard hat.
As the winner, Hannah will serve a yearlong term as the official mascot of both the Relays and Drake University.
"She's a pretty outgoing dog," said Curtis Jackson, Hannah's co-owner. "We're stunned ... I'm dumbfounded."
The panel of judges poured over a random assortment of drooling, grunting canines with a much different purpose than their Westminster Kennel Club counterparts. Bowed legs, deep wrinkles, bloodshot eyes, protruding teeth and clever costumes were considered strong attributes.
Proud ancestry and impeccable breeding are not. When it comes to picking Drake's next mascot, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
"We're looking for the ugliest bulldog you can get your hands on," said Dolph Pulliam, the executive director of the Beautiful Bulldog contest. "We're the looking for the bulldog that has that face, that drool, that personality that can charm you."
Hannah's reign got off to a rocky start. The winner's crown couldn't find a home within the ridges atop her wrinkled head, and Jackson had to pick her up and force her to sit on the throne.
But Amanda Millard, her co-owner, promised that Hannah will take time out from her favorite activities — digging in the mud and dining on foot wear — and honor the office of Beautiful Bulldog with style.
"She'll take plenty of naps for all of her bulldog friends," Millard said.