(Charlie Neibergall ~ Associated Press)
After two runner-up finishes and one "Mr. Congeniality" title, Porterhouse finally nabbed "top dog" honors Monday when he was crowned the winner of Drake University's annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest in downtown Des Moines.
Porterhouse, a 4-year-old brown-and-white bulldog from Des Moines, beat out 49 other dogs from eight states to claim the title. The event coincides with the Drake Relays, hosted for the 100th time this week by the Drake University Bulldogs.
The judges weren't looking for the prettiest mutt in the mix. No, they wanted to see drool, bloodshot eyes and bowed legs -- and costumes don't hurt either. Owners slapped tutus, blonde wigs, goggles and all kinds of wacky hats on their precious pups.
Porterhouse, who finished second in 2006 and 2007, sported camouflage and an army helmet for the occasion.
"They're not looking for pedigree," Dolph Pulliam, the master of ceremonies for the event, said of the judging. "You use your own imagination."
The tongue-in-cheek contest has grown in popularity in recent years. Pulliam said the 50 slots for this year's pageant filled up faster than ever before and that Drake could have had 100 bulldogs in the competition if it had the room.
"The people love it," Pulliam said. "They call us year-round, so they love this contest."
Porterhouse beat out Maxxis, another Des Moines bulldog, to claim top honors.
Porterhouse's owner, Erin Bell, said her dog is a sweet, friendly guy who always makes people laugh. She and her husband, Kevin Bell, had a feeling Monday morning that, after three years of coming so close, Porterhouse would finally break through this time.
"He's handsome -- we think anyway," Bell said. "He's got the look, I think, of the Drake bulldog."