From cocker spaniels and beagles to Chihuahuas and mixed breeds, dozens of cute and some not so cute dogs showed off their looks and some crazy doggy styles at a festive neighborhood dog show last weekend in Montebello.
The event’s promoter, Manny Aldapa, said the dog show is intended to make people aware of the special qualities of rescue dogs, and to encourage people to adopt pets from animal shelters.
The competition, held at Grace Baptist Church, drew dog owners from across Montebello and nearby communities, all sure his or her dog deserved to be crowned the show’s cutest, biggest, best costumed, ugliest, best trick performer or the highly coveted best-in-show canine superstar. A few of the owners also got into the act, hoping to take home the top prize in the owner-dog look-a-like category.
While the dogs and their owners came ready to compete, dressed in their finest costumes, hair clipped and brushed to a glorious sheen, the yapping contestants were not your typical show dogs. Most can be founding living in the backyards of homes in Montebello and surrounding communities, rather than competing for money and titles in the pure bred shows often seen on television. But to their owners they are champions, but more importantly, members of the family.
“She’s like our second daughter,” said Greyca Lopez about her two year-old beagle named Santita.
“My mom tells me she is more expensive than my actual daughter,” she laughs.
Since Santita — a gift from Santa, thus the name — was brought home two years ago, the “crazy beagle” has only been fed top of the line dog food and doggy formula, Lopez said.
Montebello resident Dina Vazquez told EGP her two-year-old shiba inu named Yoshi gets to sit in the front seat of her car.
“I have no children [at home], they’re all grown up, so he’s my child,” said Vasquez, echoing an often repeated sentiment.
Two-year-old terrier mix Lola loves to go to the dog park and dog’s beach, says her owner, Sarai Corrnel of Montebello. She told EGP that Lola is in doggy day care when she’s at work, but thanks to her computer’s webcam, she can still keep a close eye on her precious pet.
“I don’t have a kid, this is my kid,” Corrnel told EGP, adding she doubts her children will ever “be as spoiled as her” Lola.
She said Lola at one point was destined for an animal shelter, but now lives a life of luxury that includes toys and even her own birthday cake, and never being home alone for more than four hours at a time.
“She’s the best,” explains Corrnel enthusiastically.
Loki, a four-year-old French mastiff rescued from an uncertain future when his previous owner decided he could no longer care for him, is now dog show royalty, winning the prestigious Best of Show category.
Loki’s owner Luis Medina recalled his surprise upon first seeing his now champion canine: “Someone said ‘are you looking for a puppy?’ but when I showed up he was not a puppy,” Medina told EGP, referring to the massive size of the dog that now weighs 180 lbs, earning him the added award for Biggest Dog. Loki’s win was no surprise to the crowd that had cheered him on, repeatedly calling out his name.
The size of a grown man, at home Loki playmates are two Chihuahuas and a cat, said Medina.
“He’s like a big kid, he likes to play,” said the East Los Angeles resident. “He’s definitely an outside dog and a good guard dog.”
Though most pet owners normally like to boast about how cute their dogs are, the owner of Chupacabra del Diablo, winner of the ugliest dog category, proudly boasted that the other dogs competing were no match for her eight-months-old Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless).
“He looks like Benjamin button … born really old-looking,” Ashley Dutka told EGP. “I saw the ugliest category and thought, ‘oh he’s definitely the ugliest,’” she said happily.
Dutka, who calls the dog by his nickname Chupi, bought the dog from a woman in Texas and had him flown out to Los Angeles.
“My grandma calls him the devil dog because he’s so ugly,” she laughed.
Despite his looks, which Dutka says often prompts people to ask her if he’s a small horse or a rat, Chupacabra gets to sleep on her bed, eat at the table and, she pointed out, he eats before everyone else. He really is a big brat, she said.
This is the second show organized by Aldapa. He said he wanted a place to recognize man’s best friend, which can be found in every community. He especially wanted to include the mixed breed dogs that are usually excluded from competition.
“We want to remember why we’re doing this… to advocate adopting rescued dogs,” he said. We’ re not trying to take away from purebreds, he said, “but we can save a life by adopting a rescued dog.”