By most accounts, the 2008 World?s Ugliest Dog contest was over before it began.

It was hard to deny the fact that Gus ? a one-eyed, three-legged, hairless Chinese crested with skin cancer ? wasn?t exactly a looker. It didn't help that he spent most of the three-hour event sleeping in a baby blanket in owner Jeanenne Teed?s arms with his tongue hanging out. Or that he sometimes bites when folks get too close.

But that turned out to be a winning combination for the crowd-favorite and ultimate winner of this anti-beauty pageant for pups held each year in Petaluma at the Sonoma-Marin Fair. Consider it a nod to the underest of underdogs.

?Big buckets of drool get extra points,? said emcee Brent Farris of radio station KZST during Friday?s event. ?So do missing limbs.?

Not that Gus didn't have some serious competition for the pug-ugliest pooch on the planet. This year's contest included 15 pups at various levels on the ?Yikes? scale, from Princess Chelsea, a blind Chinese Crested (a popular ugly dog breed), whose hairless condition only accentuated the strawberry-sized growth on her leg to Buster, the bug-eyed Chihuahua mutt.

Also in the running were Daisy, who Farris described as smelling like feet, and former winner (and crowd favorite) Elwood with his signature tongue-lolling.

But don?t feel too sorry for this motley crew. The owners see this event not as cruel, but as a way to celebrate their unusual dogs.

?This is something she can actually participate in," said Becky Rond of Fairfield, Princess Chelsea's owner as her dog stumbled toward the stage. Gus traveled all the way from St. Petersburg, Fla. to compete. ?We know she doesn?t have a leg to stand on,? Teed said, cooing at her three-legged pup.

The winner will be flown to New York to appear on CBS This Morning and the event will be aired on Animal Planet in October. Gus?s human companions also win $500.

So far Gus isn't letting it go to his head. ?I think he's ready for a nap,? said Teed as she accepted the award.

And the losers? Grovie?s owner, Edie Partridge of Santa Rosa, just laughed at the loss. ?We?re really going to have to fall back and recoup after this,? he said. ?We may consider some serious surgery for next year.? Grovie wasn?t commenting.