(CNN) — It’s a fact: Elwood was ugly. And he was loved.
Now, he’s gone.
Karen Quigley told CNN on Saturday that Elwood, her Chinese Crested and Chihuahua mix that shot to national prominence after winning the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest in 2007, had died.
“The best part was he did not suffer, he was in my arms and with me,” Quigley said from her home in Sewell, New Jersey, 15 miles east of Philadelphia.
“I couldn’t be more proud that people who haven’t met him loved him … I couldn’t be more proud.”
Elwood was a mere 2-years-old — barely a teenager in dog years — when people outside southern Jersey first saw his distinctive mug. As Quigley explained in 2007, “He just doesn’t have any teeth on the left side of his mouth, so there’s nothing to keep his tongue in there. It never goes in. It’s out all the time.”
Asked by CNN how people tended to react upon seeing him, his owner said they’re typically “stunned … Sometimes they’re not even sure if it’s a dog.”
Not that Elwood minded.
“He’s very confident in his looks,” Quigley said. “He thinks he’s very handsome.”
The judges at the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest — an annual event held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California — apparently did not agree. His looks landed him the title, as well as fans from Brazil to Germany and beyond.
Not that it changed him, with Quigley saying his life’s lesson is that “you don’t have to be perfect to be special.”
“For a little dog he touched a lot of lives in his short time,” she said Saturday. “He did a lot of things.”
On Thanksgiving morning, after 8 years “filled with love and devotion,” Elwood died. Quigley said she didn’t know his cause of death, only that he had recently fallen ill.
She added, “He was a big part of my life, and my heart.”
By Drew Iden and Greg Botelho