Mr. Happy Face, a 17-year-old rescue pup, was officially named the 'World's Ugliest Dog' on Friday.
The Chinese crested-chihuahua mix was only given a few weeks to live when he was adopted.
Mr. Happy Face's owner, Jeneda Benelly, told "Today" that the dog "hobbled up to me and chose me."
Mr. Happy Face, a hairless, 17-year-old Chinese crested-chihuahua mix, is officially the ugliest dog in the world.
The pup was named the "World's Ugliest Dog" at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds and Event Center in Petaluma, California, on Friday. Mr. Happy Face's owner, Jeneda Benelly, told NBC's "Today" she rescued the dog in August 2021. The dog was saved from a hoarder's house and ended up at a shelter in Arizona, where Benelly adopted him.
Benelly shared more about her story with Mr. Happy Face on the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds website, according to "The Today Show." After deciding to adopt a dog during the pandemic, she met Mr. Happy Face at the shelter, where staff told her he "could have been inbred because he was so ugly." The veterinarian also suggested the dog could only have a few weeks to live because of tumors and other medical conditions.
"When I first met him, he was the happiest creature that I had ever met. He hobbled up to me and chose me," Benelly wrote. "I vowed that day, he would be so loved that he would never remember how awful his previous life had been. Love, kindness and mommy kisses have helped him defy the anticipated short life that we all expected him to have with our family."
The New York Times reports that Mr. Happy Face and his owner won $1,500 and a trip to New York City to appear on "Today." Benelly concluded that her dog could help people learn more about rescuing senior canines.
"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 wrote on the website.
Today reports that most of the dogs that entered the contest were rescued from shelters and puppy mills. The contest's second-place winner, a Pekingese named Wild Thang, is a survivor of distemper, a disease the dog caught from a puppy rescued from a mill. The American Veterinary Medical Association describes distemper as a contagious illness "caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs."
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