The Drake Relays get underway this week. But, before we watch the fastest athletes on the blue oval, we have to see the most beautiful on the runway. The Beautiful Bulldog was crowned Monday afternoon inside the Drake Fieldhouse.
This is a beauty pageant where drool is cool and competition is fierce. Drake University Community Outreach and Development Director Dolph Pulliam says, "This is the 34th year of the Beautiful Bulldog contest."
And, it's no joke. More than 100 bulldogs entered and 50 got to compete. One of those is 4 year-old Huckleberry. Owner Stephanie Hein says, "We are just in love with our dog. And we want to share him with everybody."
The Heins dressed their dog as Forest Gump. Steven Hein says, "He's not a smart dog, but he knows what love is."
Huckleberry competed against dogs like Molly with painted fingernails and Winston dressed in a tux, along with a dog named Capone.
Five judges met each one, then watched them strut their stuff on a runway before picking the top dog. Judge and Drake Athletics Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb says, "Everybody looks for some of the strong characteristics. You want to look for good coloring, a good head, and we always like it when they have a tooth or two popping out."
Last year's winner Tyson was also on hand. His owner says he's sad it's over. They've had a busy year. He says, "We had the Drake Relays. We had to be here for two days, had to do the photo booths, all that kind of stuff and throughout the year we went to football games, volleyball games."
Tyson's owner says people from across the globe contacted him during the dog's reign. That should come as no surprise since this beauty pageant with fire hydrants, waste baskets and time for beauty rest has inspired others. Pulliam says, "When they fell in love with it, they said, we should do the same thing. They've contacted me and I've helped them start contests around the United States."
As for the winner of the year's contest, Stephanie Hein says, "We want to have bragging rights because we think he is the most beautiful bulldog." The judges agreed. With a crown, cape and cake, Huckleberry took the throne as the Drake Relays Beautiful Bulldog.
This year's contest was a little bittersweet. After 24 years leading the pageant, Pulliam will retire. He says he's sad this is his last contest, but he's happy it will continue and may even grow.