It’s a good thing contest-winning dogs have no idea why they’re being showered with attention.
Otherwise, Martha might have a bone to pick with us.
The 3-year-old Neapolitan mastiff was named The World’s Ugliest Dog on June 23 — edging out no less than 13 other, err… striking dogs for the distinction.
So Martha gets her trophy. Her family gets $1,500, hopefully to lavish on their bread-winning dog. And we all get to fall in love with this saggy-faced siren.
We also might wonder in what world a dog with such a soulfully sweet face could ever be called ugly.
Well, it is — forgive us, Martha — a cheeky title. The 30-year-old contest, like its contestants, is all heart on the inside.
“We’re proud to celebrate all dogs and pets by showing that no matter their imperfections, they are adoptable, lovable and a great addition to any family,” organizers noted in a press release.
All of the contest dogs have overcome hard-luck circumstances. They’re the kind most often overlooked at shelters. As hard as it is to imagine, even a face like Martha’s can be forgettable to potential adopters looking for that "perfect" puppy at the pound.
Martha was rescued by the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project in Sonoma County from neglect so dire that she was nearly blind.
After several surgeries, Martha’s vision was restored, according to the Associated Press. She went on to become a much-loved family member, and — in the ultimate turnaround — the once-invisible mastiff earned adulation from around the world.
Judges, AP notes, weren’t quite sure what to make of Martha’s habit of flopping down on the ground and allowing her fulsome flaps to spread like a slobbery puddle.
But hers was never meant to be the face that launched a thousand ooohs and awwws — but the kind of face that makes us all rethink what it means to be truly beautiful.
And for that, countless dogs wiling away in shelters and bad situations across the planet owe a debt to The World’s Ugliest Dog.