PETALUMA (AP) — A 125-pound gentle giant named Martha on Friday night was crowned the winner of the 29th annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.
The gassy Neapolitan Mastiff was a favorite of the Northern California crowd from the start, often plopping down on her side on stage with her droopy face spread across the ground when she was supposed to be showing off.
She was rescued when she was nearly blind, but after several surgeries can see again, according to her handler Shirley Zindler.
She lumbered away with $1,500, a flashy trophy and a trip to New York for media appearances, all things she could hardly care less about.
She beat out 13 other dogs, most of them the kind of older, smaller dogs who dominate the competition.
Moe, a 16-year-old Brussels Griffon-pug mix who was the oldest in the competition, came in second. He had lost his hearing and sight but his sense of smell is strong and he was enjoying all the smells at the Sonoma-Marin Fair where the contest is held, including funnel cakes and other fried goodies.
Chase, a 14-year-old Chinese Crested-Harke mix, came in third.
Many of the contestants were adopted. Monkey, a 6-year-old Brussels Griffon, and Icky, an 8-year-old unknown breed, were both rescued from the homes of hoarders.
These dogs — some with acne, others with tongues permanently sticking out — are used to getting called ugly. But for their owners, it was love at first sight.
“He’s my sexy boy,” Vicky Adler, of Davis, California, said of her 8-year-old Chinese Crested named Zoomer.
The contestants were judged on first impressions, unusual attributes, personality and audience reaction.