Elwood, the Chihuahua and Chinese Crested mix who won the 2007 title of “World's Ugliest Dog,” died unexpectedly on Thanksgiving, his owner said Saturday.
"It was very sudden," 52-year-old Karen Quigley of Sewell, N.J., told Reuters. “He was in my arms.”
Quigley thinks the 5-pound dog may have died from some form of cancer.
She adopted Elwood in 2006 after a breeder said the dog – a hairless mutt with a white tuft of hair on his forehead and a tongue that stuck out permanently – was too ugly and was slated to be euthanized. But Elwood was saved from that fate by one of the breeder’s friends, and Quigley adopted him at nine months.
"He was the most beautiful dog I've ever seen,” Quigley said. "He taught children that it's OK to be different." She added Elwood possessed "a magical power to make people smile and laugh.”
And he had the opportunity to do that for a lot of people, thanks to his looks. Elwood was catapulted to international fame after winning the annual "World's Ugliest Dog" contest in 2007 at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair in Marin, Calif., creating a fan base far beyond locals and getting him booked at charity events. The annual contest is “a big dog party and a big celebration of dogs,” organizer Vicki DeArmon told International Business Times in June. “It really speaks to how much we all love dogs and that little funny thing to get us through the day.”
Countless fans from around the world wrote him letters and postcards, Reuters reported, leading Quigley to write a children’s book about self-acceptance called “Everyone Loves Elwood.” The celebrity dog also helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for animal rescue groups and nonprofit animal organizations, the Irish Independent wrote.
"I couldn't be more proud that people who haven't met him loved him,” Quigley told CNN.
According to Elwood’s official Facebook fan page, there will be a special scholarship created in Elwood’s name to help special needs students.
“A scholarship in Elwood's name is being set up by the Gloucester County College Foundation,” the post read. “This scholarship with help special needs young adults pay for tuition to attend GCC. Elwood and Karen always preached that it is OK to be different and it shouldn't stop you from being the best. So Elwood's Scholarship will help them be their best. We never thought that all of Elwood's good work would end so suddenly, so we will continue to help Elwood help others. Please share and donate.”
Donations can be made to: “Gloucester County College Foundation, Attn: Elwood Scholarship, 1400 Tanyard Road, Sewell, NJ 08080. Checks can be made to the Gloucester County College Foundation. Include "Elwood Scholarship" in the memo line to be earmarked for his scholarship.