On Friday at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma, California, Mr. Happy Face, an 18-year-old hairless Chinese crested-Chihuahua mix, was named the winner of the “World’s Ugliest Dog” competition. The title was a privilege, according to Janeda Banelly, who adopted the dog in August 2021 during the coronavirus pandemic from an Arizona shelter. This was the first competition since 2019, as the previous two were canceled because of the outbreak.
Banelly told NBC News, “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.” She added that “He was the happiest creature that I had ever met. 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.”
According to the dog’s description on the competition’s website, Mr. Happy Face has many tumors and medical issues that require lifelong medication. He spent the majority of his life being abused and neglected at a hoarder’s residence in Arizona. Despite being informed that the dog might only have a month to live, Banelly chose to adopt and care for him. Banelly also stated that the dog can be seen sticking out his tongue in every photo and aspires to have a longer tongue than Gene Simmons and a more sassy growl than Billy Idol. Mr. Happy Face defeated eight other dogs competing for the title.
One of the contest’s judges, Debra Mathy said, “It was clear and obvious Mr. Happy Face deserved to be champion. All the obstacles this dog overcame physically and in his past life — it’s amazing.” The tournament, which first took place in the 1970s, highlights the value of adoptions while also honoring each dog’s flaws. In the competitions, the majority of the dogs are adopted, with the winner awarded a free trip for two to New York City, a trophy, and a $1,500 cash prize.