PETALUMA, United States --- With a tuft of punk-style hair and a tongue sticking perennially out the side of his mouth, a dog named Mr. Happy Face has been crowned the world's homeliest pooch.
This 17-year-old Chinese crested defeated nine competitors Friday in the World's Ugliest Dog Contest, a decades-old event held annually in Petaluma, California.
The champ was adopted as a rescue last year by a 41-year-old Arizona musician, Jeneda Benally.
"During the pandemic, I had hoped to either have a baby or adopt a dog. Since having a baby would have been an act of God, I opted to adopt a dog," Benally said as she introduced this one at the contest.
At the shelter she said she was told about an older dog with health problems, a creature that "could be inbred because he was so ugly."
"The shelter staff tried to prepare me for what I was about to see. I saw a creature who was indeed old, needed a second chance and deserved to be loved," said the proud owner.
She said Mr. Happy Face had previously lived with a person who hoarded and conditions were abominable. "He was a survivor of abuse and neglect," she said.
Vets said that with his poor health the dog might only live a few weeks.
"Love, kindness and mommy kisses have helped him defy the anticipated short life that we all expected him to have with our family," Benally added.
"His hobbies include sleeping, snoring, woofing in his sleep and making odd sounds when he is happy."
Contest organizers say this of the contest itself: "Dogs of all breeds and sizes have warmed our hearts and filled our lives with unconditional love. This world-renowned event celebrates the imperfections that make all dogs special and unique."