DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — If at first you don't succeed, wipe the slobber off and try again.
Just ask 4-year-old pup Huckleberry, who was crowned Monday as this year's “Beautiful Bulldog.'
Huckleberry competed for the title in 2010, only to walk away empty-pawed. That changed this year, when he strutted down a blue runway at Drake University in Des Moines dressed in a beige suit as the main character from the movie “Forrest Gump.'
“He's just a lover,' said his owner, Stephanie Hein, as Huckleberry sat next to his miniature basketball toy and a suitcase similar to one owned by Forrest Gump.
The contest is now in its 34th year and is held ahead of the annual Drake Relays track and field meet. The university's mascot is a bulldog, and each year's winner becomes the mascot for the relays event.
Huckleberry beat 46 other bulldogs to don the crown and cape, and competition was stiff. There was a bulldog dressed as a “Thing' character by Dr. Seuss, another wore an eye patch and fake hoop earring to match his pirate-dressed owner. Diva, donning a tutu, took home the prize for best dressed.
Huckleberry seemed unfazed by all the attention, more interested in a dog-friendly cake that's served annually from the gold-painted throne. He threw in a few slobbered kisses to his owners.
When not competing, Huckleberry likes to cuddle and hang out with a girlfriend bulldog who lives nearby, according to Hein and her husband, Steven.
Huckleberry wore a Mohawk when he initially competed in 2010. But Stephanie Hein spent weeks shrinking and sowing together this year's outfit, which included a blue-checkered T-Shirt similar to the one worn by Forrest Gump.
“He was just a puppy then,' she said of his first attempt. “But he's certainly grown into himself now.'