“Ugliest dog on earth” Mugly won the 2016 Heroic Hounds award at the National Pet Show in London, England, on the weekend of May 7 and 8, 2016, for helping adults and children with disabilities. Hosted by BBC presenter Michaela Strachan, the show honored the 12-year-old hairless Chinese Crested dog title-holder of the World’s Ugliest Dog of 2012 at the Sonoma-Marin Fair contest in California and Britain’s Ugliest in 2005.
According to The Washington Post, aside from his “ugliest dog” distinction, Mugly has served as a therapy dog since 2010, under the auspices of Therapy Dogs Nationwide, a British organization. In this capacity, he has participated in reading programs for children and adults with physical disabilities.
Now 12 years old and retired as a therapy dog, he still has admirers who make sure his work has not gone unnoticed, hence, the 2016 Heroic Hounds award at London’s National Pet Show. Owner Bev Nicholson from Peterborough in the east of England, likes to get past the “ugliest dog” part and focus on his talents. Here is what she told a Wisbech Standard interviewer.
“He amazes me with his ability to know exactly how to be when he meets people. With a blind person, he stands completely still and lets them explore him; or when someone is upset, he pushes his body into them for comfort.”
Nicholson takes pride in Mugly’s ability to know when someone needs him, and she can’t explain how he does it. All she knows is that he is at a disadvantage being the world’s ugliest dog because some people don’t like him for it, despite his loving personality and adorable eyes. She calls him “a bit like Marmite, some people love him and other people don’t,” with older people preferring to hug a big fluffy dog rather than Mugly.
The American Kennel Club describes the Chinese crested dog as, “a toy dog, fine-boned, elegant and graceful.” The Hairless type has hair only on the head, tail and feet, and the Powderpuff variety is completely covered with hair. Though a genetic variation of the Hairless could result in the world’s ugliest dog, the breed is known to provide a loving companion, both playful and entertaining.
In The Washington Post report, Nicholson describes how she got to acquire the world’s ugliest dog. Born hairless, wrinkled, and with no value, he was abandoned by a breeder at a rescue center.
She recounts how the puppy, just three days old, and weak with hunger, was saved because a Shih Tzu at the center had just given birth to her own little white fluffy puppies. The nursing dog accepted the tiny orphan that would one day be the world’s ugliest dog, as one of her own, and allowed him to suckle.
A friend of Nicholson’s saw the ugliest-looking puppy at the rescue center and sent her a photograph, texting: “Ha ha I’ve found the dog for you!” as a joke. But as soon as Nicholson saw the tiny bald face on her phone, she knew what to do.
“I rang the rescue center, and begged them to let me take the puppy when he was strong enough. The owner said he was so weak he may not survive — so I rang every morning to see if he had made it through the night.”
The ugliest dog ever was eventually healthy enough to travel by train to Nicholson in London.
According to STV.TV, 12-year-old Mugly, abandoned at three days old because of his appearance, worked it to his advantage when he won Britain’s Ugliest in 2005, and later was crowned World’s Ugliest Dog in 2012, beating 28 pets in the California contest. His fame resulted in television shows, including Mutt Ugly (Ch5), Ronnie’s Animal Crackers (BBC1), and A Different Breed (Sky1).
As the ugliest therapy dog since 2010, Mugly has helped children overcome their fear of dogs and a deaf man “come out of his shell.” Mugly still visits libraries to interact with children from local schools and is the draw of a “Paws and Read” scheme, encouraging reluctant readers to come and read their books to him.
Nicholson recalls saying “Sort of” when a little girl asked her if the world’s ugliest dog had special needs. The little girl skipped off saying, “Me too.” It turned out she was autistic, rarely speaking and not interacting with others very well.
The next time the little girl saw the world’s ugliest dog, she walked right up to him and called him “my Mugly,” while hugging him, a miracle of sorts to family and staff watching.
[Photo via Facebook]