‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ dies at ripe old age

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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. – Miss Ellie, a small, bug-eyed Chinese Crested Hairless dog whose pimples and lolling tongue helped her win Animal Planet’s “World’s Ugliest Dog” contest in 2009, has died at age 17 after a career in resort show business in the Smoky Mountains.

The Mountain Press reported Thursday that Ellie starred in shows at the Comedy Barn in Pigeon Forge.

She also appeared on The Animal Planet cable show “Dogs 101″ and was on billboards and in a commercial.

Pigeon Forge Mayor Keith Whaley proclaimed Nov. 12 as “Miss Ellie Day” for her owner’s efforts to raise money for the local humane society. Over the years, Ellie, who was blind, helped raise more than $100,000 for the Sevier County Humane Society.

Last June, Miss Ellie took the blue ribbon in the pedigree category. The overall winner, a boxer-mix rescued from a shelter by Miles Egstad of Citrus Heights, Calif., took top honors at the annual contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Northern California.

Miss Ellie will be cremated.

According to NBC’s Knoxville, Tenn., affiliate, WBIR-TV, Dawn Goehring first met Miss Ellie when the dog was just 7 years old. Miss Ellie had been rescued from a home and was brought to the Goehring, a dog trainer. Over the next decade, the pair traveled around the country raising eyebrows and awareness and money for rescue animals.

In a media statement released on Miss Ellie’s passing, Dawn Goehring said “Miss Ellie has touched so many people’s hearts and we thank everyone that supported her in her crusades. While we are deeply distressed by Miss Ellie’s passing, we will not stop trying to make a difference for the animals.”