PETALUMA, Calif. — He is sooo ugly. But sooo lovable.
Mr. Happy Face, a 17-year-old Chihuahua mix, won the 2022 Ugliest Dog Contest on Friday, KABC-TV reported. The contest, held annually at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, resumed after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the television station.
The dog has lived a difficult life until he was adopted from an Arizona shelter in August 2021 by Benally. He has tumors and neurological issues, needs a diaper, struggles to stand upright or walk and holds his head cocked to one side, The New York Times reported.
“He was the happiest creature that I had ever met,” Benally told “Today.” “He hobbled up to me and chose me. I vowed that day, he would be so loved that he would never remember how awful his previous life had been.”
Mr. Happy Face also has a natural mohawk and makes a noise “like a Dodge Ram diesel truck” revving its engine when “he is elated,” according to his online biography written by Benally.
“It was clear and obvious Mr. Happy Face deserved to be champion,” Debra Mathy, one of the contest’s judges, told the Times on Saturday. She said that the judges did not even bother debating about what dog would win.
“All the obstacles this dog overcame physically and in his past life -- it’s amazing,” Mathy told the newspaper.
On its website, the contest says it promotes the adoption of dogs, even ones that might have “missing fur, crossed eyes, duck waddles or mismatched ears.”
Eight dogs walked the red carpet at the event, which has been held for 50 years, the Times reported.
“They’re promoting rescuing dogs, that all dogs regardless of their appearance deserve to be loved,” Mathy told the newspaper.
Wild Thang “looked like 50 pounds but only weighed 6 pounds because it was all fur,” Mathy told the Times.
Third place went to Monkey, a 12-year-old female Blue Factor Brussels Griffon. “She likes just about everyone and everything, except bath time,” according to the contest website.
Monkey was rescued from a hoarding situation 11 years ago, according to the website.
Scamp the Tramp won the last contest in 2019. Scamp was a lovable tramp, a dog of unknown breeding “with beady eyes, no teeth and short stubby legs.”
Benally said it was “just amazing” that the judges recognized her dog’s “true inner beauty” in this year’s contest.
“I don’t know that I feel like I’ve got the world’s ugliest dog,” Benally told KABC. “I know I’ve got the world’s most lovable dog.”
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