When Janeda Banelly was looking to adopt a dog, an animal shelter in Arizona gave her a warning before she saw Mr. Happy Face.
“I was warned [he] might be inbred because he was so ugly,” she said in a press release. “The shelter staff tried to prepare me for what I was about to see.”
It was last August when Banelly decided to adopt the then 17-year-old dog, believing he “needed a second chance and deserved to be loved”.
Less than a year later, Mr. Happy Face is famous. Saturday, the little dog won first place in the annual “World’s Ugliest Dog,” a tongue-in-cheek contest held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. The event returned this year after being canceled twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite warnings from the shelter, Banelly knew fairly quickly that this was the dog for him.
“When I first met him, he was the happiest creature I have ever met. He approached me and chose me,” she said. I swore that day that he would be loved so much that he would never remember how awful his previous life had been.”
Mr. Happy Face, whose contest biography does not specify his race, was not to live long after his adoption. As for his longevity so far, Banelly attributes it in part to the “love” and “kindness” he has received.
Her hobbies, she says, include “being fearlessly adorable”, invoking her “senior privilege” over the other pets in the house and “eating stinky things”.
This year’s first runner-up was a puppy mill survivor named Wild Thang.