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'Ugliest' Dog Is a Thing of Beauty to His Owner

Some people won't even touch Susie Lockheed's pooch, a champion of hideousness. But she's dedicated to him despite the world's opinion.

August 15, 2005|Wendy Lee | Times Staff Writer

But that treatment is not extended when Lockheed spends the night at her fiance's ranch, which she does every weekend. Mark Tautrim, who never allowed his dogs indoors before, bans the hairless pack to the back bedroom.

But at some point during the night, Sam will invariably demand Lockheed's attention, letting out a shrill cry -- "straight out of a horror movie," Tautrim said. Lockheed races to Sam's rescue and spends the rest of the night with her dogs.

"We say our goodnights and [then] I ban her to the back bedroom," Tautrim said.

Unfortunately, luck in love hasn't extended to Sam. He's still chasing after the yellow Lab next door, Mahia, after an on-and-off, three-year relationship.

"It's cute," said Mary Judge, Mahia's owner. However, Judge said there would be "no babies" with her dog and Sam.

Sam's health is so frail these days that Lockheed never leaves his side and refuses to take trips abroad. She turned down an invitation to her niece's wedding in Capri this October because she thought Sam wouldn't survive the flight to Italy.

"I think it's amazing how she can care for such a hideous dog," said Lockheed's childhood friend Susie Weller, adding that the dogs "are kind of like her children."

Weller recalled how Lockheed would squeeze out Sam's blackheads, and how every time, Sam would growl.

Lockheed said her customers have all grown accustomed to Sam's presence, some even requesting that Sam sleep on their laps. At Christmastime, Sam receives more presents from clients than she does.

A former actress who once tried to launch her career in Los Angeles, Lockheed says she is now a proud canine stage mom. She regularly blogs on her website, Sam ... "World's Ugliest Dog," which has drawn more than 2 million hits since its creation in July. The site sells Sam magnets and T-shirts. Reporters have called from as far away as Japan and Holland to hear his famous growl.

Lockheed brags that Sam has received far more fame than she ever had while starring in community musicals. She sees him paraphrasing the resonating line of Norma Desmond, the fading silent-screen actress in the movie "Sunset Boulevard," whose beauty and youth have long disappeared.

But Sam really might be ready for his close-up. The more he ages, the uglier he becomes and the more successful he becomes. Lockheed hopes she can extend his success to Hollywood. She plans to hire an agent for Sam to help him appear in films and commercials.

But she's up against time.

"I worry about [Sam's health] terribly," Lockheed said, adding that she would be surprised if Sam was alive for the next ugly dog contest.

"I just feel he's like on borrowed time, and every day is just a blessing. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, not just for luck, but because I love him so much."



The ugly facts

Susie Lockheed met her fiance, Mark Tautrim, in February 2004 after he saw a photograph of Lockheed and Sam posted on and e-mailed her, asking "What is that?"

* Sam's name is derived from the biblical story of Samson and Delilah. "Samson's strength is in his hair," Lockheed said. "We know how much strength Sam has in his hair," she joked. Sam is a Chinese crested hairless.

* Lockheed graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in theater. She went on to star in a number of community theater musicals including "The Wizard of Oz" and "Singin' in the Rain."

* Sam's website is:

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