World’s Ugliest Dog 2022 award goes to 17-year-old Mr Happy Face

Mr Happy Face, a hairless Chinese crested-Chihuahua mix, was adopted from shelter in 2021

Related: Vets claim rivalry between cats and dogs is a myth

After a close competition, a 17-year-old rescue dog named Mr Happy Face has been named the World’s Ugliest Dog.

Mr Happy Face, a Chinese crested-chihuahua mix, won the annual title at the 2022 World’s Ugliest Dog contest in Petaluma, California, on Friday.

According to the Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds and Event Centre’s website, the dog’s owner, Janeda Banelly, adopted Mr Happy Face from an Arizona shelter in August 2021.

“When I arrived at the shelter, I asked to see a particular dog that, fortunately for me, had just been adopted,” Banelly said. “I asked if there were any other dogs that were similar to that one. There was, in fact, another dog there who was much older and had health issues and I was warned could be inbred because he was so ugly.”

Despite the warnings, Banelly said all she saw was a dog that was “indeed old, needed a second chance and deserved to be loved,” and decided to adopt Mr Happy Face, who had come from a hoarder’s house and who had been neglected and abused in the past.

The adoption wasn’t without its concerns, however, as Banelly said that her veterinarian warned her that the 17-year-old rescue, who suffered from tumours and other health conditions, might not live for longer than a month.

Still, she only recalled him as being “the happiest creature that [she] 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,” she said. “Love, kindness and mommy kisses have helped him defy the anticipated short life that we all expected him to have with our family.”

Mr Happy Face wins World’s Ugliest Dog award

As for Mr Happy Face’s win of the world’s ugliest dog title for 2022, Banelly told Today it was an “honour”. She also said the win is a good reminder to others that old dogs need love too.

“I believe that this humble soul is also being an example, in subtle ways, to help humans realise that even old dogs need love and a family too,” Banelly said.

Mr Happy Face was rescued in August 2021

The annual competition, which saw Mr Happy Face beat out runner-up Wild Thang to win the $1,500 prize, often features dogs adopted from shelters or rescued from puppy mills, according to Today, with the competition’s press release noting that, “since the 70s, the contest has been a testament that all dogs do not have to meet AKC pedigree standards to be man’s (or woman’s) best friend”.

The competition was cancelled in both 2021 and 2020, however, the title of 2019 World’s Ugliest Dog was awarded to Scamp the Tramp, a dog of unspecified breed found as a stray on the streets of Compton.

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