Some dogs spend their lives aspiring to win Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. They’re perfectly groomed—nary a hair out of place—extremely obedient, and exhibit the textbook traits associated with their breeds.
And then…there are the dogs on the other end of the spectrum. The ones with unusual physical characteristics and excessive gas problems. The ones with patchy hair and teeth askew. The ones whose idiosyncratic imperfections tell a story—often from their pre-rescue lives. Those, dear friends, are the “Ugly Dogs.” And we think they are effing beautiful.
Every year, the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California hosts an event called the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest that celebrates the beauty of these beasts. The winner receives a trophy, a $1,500 cash prize, and a trip to New York City (ostensibly for “media appearances” but probably just to eat street meat).
The contest—which has been around since the ‘70s—has a history of awarding its highest honor to the arguably “ugliest” breed, the Chinese Crested (12 have won since the year 2000). But this year, a literal underdog snuck in and stole the crown.
Meet Martha, a three-year-old Neapolitan Mastiff who weighs 125 pounds—about 100 of which is excess skin that just droops off her face. Beyond her massive, flapping jowls, Martha also has blood red eyes (she used to be nearly blind from neglect when she was rescued by the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project), extreme gas problems, and a cantankerous personality.
All in all: A gem of a dog.
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