With her pink sparkly collar and nails to match her slobbery tongue, Zsa Zsa the English bulldog is making the most of her new life as a celebrity.
The 9-year-old canine from Anoka took first place this weekend at the annual World’s Ugliest Dog Competition in Petaluma, Calif., and then jetted off to New York the next day for an appearance on NBC’s Today Show.
Her squished-in face, crooked stride and drooling mouth have won the hearts of people around the world.
“She’s loving the attention. We couldn’t even walk down the street without people stopping,” said Zsa Zsa’s owner, Megan Brainard, who met fans of the dog from as far as Sweden and Japan.
Four years ago, Brainard saw a picture of the bulldog online and knew she had to have her. Zsa Zsa had spent five years at a puppy mill in Missouri before being purchased at auction by a rescue group.
“It’s hard for me to call her the ugliest dog because I always tell her she’s so pretty,” she said.
Brainard said the bulldog was named after Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor because she liked to lay on the couch “like a beautiful model” — though her taste for Chipotle and Slim Jims can sometimes make it hard to maintain a perfect figure.
Zsa Zsa had some tough competition. Many of the other 13 dogs parading around the stage at the 30th annual event also were strays or rescues with a signature look.
“These dogs that come from homeless shelters and puppy mills are just as amazing as the ones you spend thousands and thousands of dollars on,” said Brainard, who owns K-9 and Kitty Kutters grooming salons in Minneapolis and Andover.
As a prize, a donation will be made on her behalf to Underdog Rescue, the organization that saved Zsa Zsa.
For now, the bulldog with the unforgettable face is getting ready to relax after her big week.
After doing the press circuit and some sightseeing in Times Square, Zsa Zsa’s limo arrived Wednesday to take her and her family to the airport. Blue Jet gave her a comfy spot at her owners’ feet along with wings to commemorate the flight from New York back to California.
Then the family picked up their van and began the trek back to Anoka, where Zsa Zsa will be able to show off her $1,500 winnings — and her six-foot pink trophy.
Katie Galioto • 612-673-4706