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A senior pooch is the proud recipient of the 'World's Ugliest Dog' prize, but his owner believes he's perfect just the way he is.

The World's Ugliest Dog competition just named a new champion: Mr. Happy Face, a 17-year-old rescue pup who stole the show and won his mom's heart. The event, which was held at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds and Event Center in Petaluma, California, celebrates the special and unique features of all dogs, especially those who are rescues. As the winner, Mr. Happy Face's mom, Jeneda Benally, was awarded $1,500 and a trip to New York City to appear on the Today Show, while a Pekingese called Wild Thang came in second.

In August 2021, Benally rescued a hairless Chinese crested-Chihuahua mix from an Arizona shelter. He was told the pup was an "old dog" and wouldn't be around for more than a month due to a need for ongoing medical treatment for multiple tumors and conditions. When they first met, Benally recalled the pup being the happiest creature he had ever seen. He hobbled up to him and chose Benally as his own. Vowing to give him all the love and care he deserved, Benally told the Today Show, "I vowed that day, he would be so loved that he would never remember how awful his previous life had been.”

Benally, a proud dog mom, is hopeful that her senior rescue will be a source of inspiration for people to view age and physical limitations with fresh eyes. “I firmly believe that this gentle spirit is also a reminder, in its own way, that even elderly dogs still need and deserve love and a family,” she said. “Love, kindness, and plenty of mommy kisses have enabled him to exceed all expectations of a short life with us.”

When Mr. Happy Face wraps up his media commitments, he'll return to his beloved pastimes: playing with his furry brothers and sisters, devouring smelly snacks, snuggling with Mummy and making the most of every day.

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