The World’s Ugliest Dog competition just crowned a new winner. A 17-year-old rescue named Mr. Happy Face walked away with the title and bragging — or barking — rights, and his mom couldn’t be more proud.
According to the official website, the contest, which is held at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds and Event Center in Petaluma, California, “celebrates the imperfections that make all dogs special and unique.” Most of the contestants were rescue dogs like Mr. Happy Face.
Musician Jeneda Benally and her beloved senior dog won $1,500 and a trip to New York City to appear on the Today Show, while a Pekingese named Wild Thang took home the second place title.
The hairless Chinese crested-Chihuahua mix was rescued from an Arizona shelter in August 2021. Benally was told he was an “old dog” and likely wouldn’t live more than a month. A lifelong need for medications to treat multiple tumors and conditions kept many from adopting the lovable pup.
“When I first met him, he was the happiest creature that I had ever met. He hobbled up to me and chose me," Benally told the Today Show. "I vowed that day, he would be so loved that he would never remember how awful his previous life had been.”
The proud dog mom hopes her senior rescue inspires others to look past age or physical limitations.
“I believe that this humble soul is also being an example, in subtle ways, to help humans realize that even old dogs need love and a family, too,” Benally said. “Love, kindness and mommy kisses have helped him defy the anticipated short life that we all expected him to have with our family.”
When Mr. Happy Face finishes up his media appearances, he'll go back to doing what he does best: playing with his four-legged siblings, eating stinky things, cuddling with his mom and making the most of each and every day.