The 18-year-old canine has appeared in TV shows and landed interviews with leading networks. "He's happy to be alive and be loved," said his owner.
A small dog with a tongue as long as his head and wispy strands of hair covering his mostly bald skin entered the World's Ugliest Dog competition and came out of it the happiest. The almost 50-year-old competition celebrates the "imperfections that make all dogs unique" as part of the Sonoma-Marin Fair which attempts to spread the awareness that all animals are unique and can be loved, irrespective of how they look, per the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds and Events Center website.
The adorable canine who won the competition in 2022 belongs to Jeneda Benally who met Mr. Happy Face—named Matthias at the time—in August 2021 at an Arizona shelter, reports The Washington Post.
She had intended to leave the Yavapai Humane Society shelter in Prescott, Arizona, with a large protective dog but the animal she desired had been adopted minutes before she arrived. As a result, Benally requested that the no-kill shelter show her some dogs who were unlikely to be adopted. Mr. Happy Face, who has some deformities and tumors, walked over to Benally and seemed to ask for a second chance. "He had so much hope in his eyes," Benally said. "He spoke to my heart."
He was given only six weeks to live, but over time, the dog who could barely walk and shrieked when touched transformed into one who runs after Benally and woofs in his sleep, and he no longer requires medication.
"That's not the bark of a decrepit old dog," the 48-year-old said. "That's the bark of a dog who loves life and is so fully loved." The 18-year-old still has the energy to run away playfully when he needs a diaper change and enjoys long strolls in his stroller. "His outer body is decrepit and deformed," Benally said. "But in my eyes, he's absolutely adorable and I can tell that he's happy to be alive and be loved."
After winning the contest, Mr. Happy Face inspired many people to adopt underdogs and senior dogs who don't get much attention. The Chihuahua-Chinese crested mix has now turned into a celebrity who has his own Instagram account and interviews with networks like NBC's TODAY news and CBC. "He loves the attention. He actually has learned how to pose for pictures," revealed Benally.
Just after their interview with TODAY, as Benally and Mr. Happy Face walked backstage, they were approached by Kesha Rose Sebert. "OMG is that him?!" the pop star exclaimed. "Is that THE dog? Mr. Happy Face?"
"Yes," said Benally excitedly. "You're welcome to pet him if you'd like." The singer stroked the few gray hairs on Mr. Happy Face's head as he stared her down. He has reportedly adopted that unique stare since winning the title of the world's ugliest dog. "This was the moment when perfection and perfect in his very own unique way met," Benally said.
Here's wishing many more laurels for Mr. Happy Face.