The Odd Truth: July 1, 2005

SUV hero
The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Meredith Stoffel.

Hairless Pooch Ugliest Dog

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The owners of the other contestants in this year's World's Ugliest Dog Contest may have thought their pooches had a chance — until they saw Sam.

The 14-year-old pedigreed Chinese crested recently won the Sonoma-Marin Fair contest for the third consecutive time, and it's no surprise.


has no hair, if you don't count the yellowish-white tuft erupting from his head. His wrinkled brown skin is covered with splotches, a line of warts marches down his snout, his blind eyes are an alien, milky white and a fleshy flap of skin hangs from his withered neck. And then there's the Austin Powers teeth that jut at odd angles from his mouth.

He's so ugly even the judges recoiled when he was placed on the judging table, said his proud owner, Susie Lockheed, of Santa Barbara.

"People are always horrified when I kiss him. He may turn into a prince yet. He's definitely a toad," she said. "I always thought he'd be great on greeting cards or on a commercial for Rogaine."

Sam, who's pushing 15, has something of a cult following after winning the contest — and fans' hearts — for three years running. Last year, huge crowds gathered around Sam and Lockheed at a local parade and Lockheed said she received letters and calls about her pup for weeks.

"So many people have told me they've got his picture on their refrigerator. He certainly has a little cult following," she said. "I did years of professional musical theater and never achieved the fame Sam has."

Sam will appear in this weekend's Fourth of July parade in Santa Barbara, but the recent events may be the cap on a long, ugly career. Lockheed says Sam's now suffering from congestive heart failure, lung and kidney problems and has definitely slowed down in his twilight years.

Parents Hide Pot In Diaper

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. - The parents of a five-month old child face charges after the mother allegedly tried to get marijuana to the father by smuggling it into the Northern Regional Jail in the baby's diaper.

The father, Jason Michael Wren, 29, of Scio, Ohio, was arraigned on a felony charge of conspiring to bring a controlled substance into a correctional facility. Wren's bond was set at $5,000. No preliminary hearing has been set. Wren has been lodged in the jail since November.

The mother, Mallory Renee McGrail, 20, of Jewett, Ohio, was charged June 18 with felony delivery of a controlled substance into a correctional facility, said West Virginia State Police Trooper R. M. Hogan. She remains jailed on a $5,000 bond. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday in Marshall County Magistrate Court.

Hogan said less than 15 grams of marijuana was seized from McGrail by a corrections officer.

The officer ordered McGrail to remove the baby's diaper when she came to visit Wren, her fiance. As she removed the diaper, McGrail attempted to hide something under the baby's bottom, Hogan said. The corrections officer ordered her to hand it over. McGrail then allegedly surrendered a package of a green, leafy substance that later tested positive for marijuana, police reports said.

Hogan contacted state Child Protective Services workers and the child was turned over to a relative of Wren.

Wren took responsibility for the incident, Hogan noted, saying McGrail "never would have done it" if he hadn't told her to deliver the drugs.

Wren is currently serving a 60-year prison sentence for a first-degree robbery conviction in Ohio County, according to a circuit clerk.

Bidder Pays $351,000 For Lunch

OMAHA, Neb. - Saying "check, please" will cost a bidder in this online auction more than $350,000.

Someone bid $351,100 to have lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the so-called "Oracle of Omaha," in an online charity auction.

There were 110 bids in the auction, which started at $25,000.

The winning bidder can take seven friends to lunch with Buffett in Omaha or New York at a mutually agreeable date, time and restaurant.

The bidder's name was not immediately released and the person may decide to remain anonymous, said Mary Dunbar, a Glide Foundation spokeswoman.

Proceeds go to the Glide Foundation, which provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco. The foundation's chief executive, the Rev. Cecil Williams, said Buffett's late wife Susan introduced her husband to the foundation's work.

Buffett, who is worth an estimated $44 billion, suggested the lunch auction as a way to raise money for the foundation, Williams said.

Buffett is chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which is based in Omaha.

Yellow Taxis Go Green

NEW YORK - What will New Yorkers give up for cleaner air? Is it worth ten inches of legroom in the back seat of a taxi?

That's the way environmentalists see the bill passed yesterday by the City Council. It permits cab owners to add hybrid SUVs to their fleets.

The hybrids run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. They get twice the gas mileage of gasoline only cars, and emit less carbon monoxide.

But New Yorkers like their taxicabs big, and the hybrids have smaller back seats than the workhorse of the fleet, an extra long version of the Ford Crown Victoria.

Exactly how many of the city's 12,760 yellow cabs will go green is up to taxi owners.

Mexico Issues Cartoon Stamp

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's government insists a black cartoon character with exaggerated features is a national icon who deserves his own postage stamp --not an embarrassing racial stereotype.

The Mexican postal service has begun issuing five stamps featuring the character "Memin Pinguin," from a comic book published for the last 60 years in Mexico.

The White House says "racial stereotypes are offensive no matter what their origin."

But a spokesman for Mexican president Vicente Fox says the comic book, depicting a character with dark skin, thick lips and wide eyes, promotes family values.

The spokesman says the stamp is a celebration of Mexican culture and a salute to the country's cartoonists, and is "not racist."

FTC Chief's Credit Card Info Stolen

WASHINGTON - The Federal Trade Commission stays busy helping millions of Americans who fall victim to identity theft each year. But one recent victim is the head of the agency, Deborah Platt Majoras.

An FTC spokeswoman says Majoras has been notified by shoe retailer DSW that her credit card information was stolen. Her credit card number was among 1.4 million that were stolen from a company database.