Mr. Happy Face, an 18-year-old hairless Chinese Crested Chihuahua mix, was crowned champion in the “World’s Ugliest Dog” pageant Friday at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma, Calif.
Janeda Banelly, who adopted the dog from an Arizona shelter in August 2021 during the coronavirus pandemic, said the title was an honor. It was the first competition in years as the previous two were canceled in 2020 and 2021 amid the pandemic.
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“I believe this humble soul is also an example, in a subtle way, to help humans realize that even old dogs need love and a family too,” Banelly said, according to NBC.
Mr. Happy Face, who has been abused and neglected in a hoarder’s home in Arizona for most of his life, has multiple tumors and medical conditions that require lifelong medication, according to the dog’s profile on the venue website. Banelly was also warned that he could only stay with the dog for a month, but Banelly decided to adopt him and take care of him anyway.
“He was the happiest creature I have ever met,” she said. “He approached me and chose me. I swore that day that he would be loved so much that he would never remember how horrible his previous life had been.
Banelly said the dog, who has his tongue sticking out in every photo, aims to have a longer tongue than Gene Simmons and a more frisky growl than Billy Idol, according to the website.
Mr Happy Face beat out eight other dogs for the title, including a dog that looked like Star Trek’s fuzzball alien called “tribble”, who finished second.
“It was clear and obvious that Mr. Happy Face deserved to be champion,” said Debra Mathy, one of the contest judges. New York Times. “All the obstacles this dog has overcome physically and in his past life – it’s amazing.”
The contest, which began in the 1970s, highlights the importance of adoptions while celebrating each dog’s imperfections. Most of the dogs in the competitions are adopted, according to a press release shared with NBC.
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“Since the 1970s, the contest has been a testament to the fact that not all dogs have to meet AKC pedigree standards to be a man’s (or woman’s) best friend,” the statement read.
The winner receives a free trip to New York, a trophy and a cash prize of $1,500.