Sorry, Josie, you’re just too cute to be ugly.

And that’s the rub for a Tucson mutt who competed Friday night in the 2014 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.

Little Josie — with her toenails painted a sparkly pink, her neck ringed with a purple-and-green hand-beaded collar — didn’t have a chance against her two dozen canine competitors in Petaluma, California, some of whom were truly hideous.

Josie’s ears stick out like Yoda, her tongue lolls from the right side of her mouth where teeth are in short supply, and patches of wiry blond hair protrude in random groupings from her stubby, tube-shaped body. Still, she is more endearing than ugly.

The contest’s winner, Peanut, looks more like a Muppet from hell than man’s best friend.

“I don’t think she’s going to win this year because there are some really, really distorted looking dogs entered,” said Josie’s owner, Linda Elmquist, hours before the competition.

It’s the third time Elmquist has entered Josie in the contest. Last year the 4-year-old Xoloitzcuintli-Chihuahua-poodle mix placed third.

Elmquist has long been a fan of the Ugliest Dog Contest, now in its 26th year, as a way to promote the adoption of not-so-adorable pups.

“I love the contest because I think it really does bring awareness to the less adoptable dogs. Kids love it. Kids really embrace these dogs and it kind of teaches kids about tolerating differences,” she said.

When she’s not vying for ugly honors, Josie roams Elmquist’s home with seven other small dogs and prowls the backyard for birds.

“She loves to stalk pigeons, which are bigger than her,” Elmquist said. “She looks just like a cat. She crouches down and moves her feet back and forth and she goes to pounce on them and they fly away.”

Josie’s carefree life today is far different than it was before Elmquist adopted her two years ago.

For the first two years of Josie’s life, she was kept in a small cage and used as a breeder dog at a local puppy mill. When the owner shut down, her dogs were turned over to Tucson rescue group Saving Animals From Euthanasia.

Elmquist temporarily took in Josie as a foster dog, but fell in love with her.

Curious about Josie’s lineage, Elmquist, a nurse, sent a cheek swab to a doggie DNA testing lab, where technicians initially were stumped. Eventually they determined she was a combination of several breeds.

Although Josie’s diverse gene pool wasn’t enough to win her ugly honors, she might have gained an edge had the judges factored in a particularly distasteful habit.

“She likes to eat poop in the backyard. It’s disgusting,” said a revolted Elmquist, whose Facebook page is, nevertheless, peppered with photos of her cuddling the homely pup.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at or 520-573-4191.