The fishy smell of the marina filled the air as thousands of feet and even more paws scampered in the mud — hopefully, from the weekend’s rain and not the many plausible urinations — at Marine Stadium Park on Sunday.
Animal lovers from all across Southern California met at the park for the 13th annual Haute Dog’s Bulldog Beauty Contest from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
“The whole idea is to bring people together for their love of animals,” said volunteer Brad Duerre. “It’s a great way to meet people, make friends and get involved with the community.”
The event, which started off as an ironic attraction for a pet adoption fair, has evolved to include all sorts of breeds. Everyone from terriers and retrievers to Dachshunds and Great Danes were present.
“Lots of people were saying ‘I’d like to bring my dog,’ so it grew over the years,” Duerre said.
The once-one-hour long event has now stretched into 6 hours, including 21 competitions for everything from Best Ears, Best Tail, even Best Legs to Best Butt (open to all breeds and mixes). This year, they wrapped up the day with the first ever Cutest Corgi contest.
The day began with the Best Dog with a Disability competition before kicking off the main event, the Bulldog Beauty Contest.
This year’s most beautiful Bulldog was Dozer, a 3-year-old English Bulldog from Burbank. Courtney Hood, his wife Nancy and daughter Amanda, brought Dozer to Long Beach early on Sunday – along with Dozer’s sister and the newest addition to the family, Mary.
They came just for the fun, and left with an unexpected blue ribbon.
“We were one of the last ones to walk onto the field, just in the spur of the moment,” Hood said. “He’s just a family dog. We don’t primp him like you would a show dog, he gets dirty. He’s just a bit of a show-off is all.”
The Hoods say they have two human children, but five in total. They welcomed in their third Bulldog after another family was unable to take care of her, and said after getting Dozer — their first as a family — they had to go back to the breeder to get another.
“I didn’t like leaving him alone, so we went back and got his sister, and I still don’t leave them alone,” Hood said chuckling. “I still take them with me everywhere.”
He says all dogs are maintenance, but Bulldogs require a bit more attention because of a higher susceptibility to health issues and their many wrinkles that require cleaning.
“They’re very picky dogs, and stubborn,” Hood said. “With food they’re easy to train, without it not so much.”
Justin Rudd, organizer of the event and founder of Community Action Team, is currently the owner of his third Bulldog name Potus. His first — which inspired the original contest 13 years ago — was named Rosie, and became the namesake for Rosie’s Dog Beach near the Belmont Pier in 2010.
Duerre says that Rudd’s non-profit organization CAT holds about 80 different events a year, including a beach clean-up every month and multiple “Haute Dog” events.
Rudd pays for pet adoption organizations to come set up booths at these contests, with the goal of finding as many homes as possible for the rescue dogs.
He says another reason for hosting the beauty contests is to unite dog lovers and their pets.
“I think the other reason is just to have a day that people can come with their animal and do something that’s extra special,” Rudd said. “I mean you may go to the dog park or you may go up to the dog beach, but when you come here and you take a blue ribbon, that’s a memory you’re going to have forever.”