Mr. Happy Face, World’s Ugliest Dog, dies

Jeneda Benally and Mr. Happy Face. Benally rescued Mr. Happy Face from Tuba City, and he found fame in June 2022. (Photo/World’s Ugliest Dog)

Jeneda Benally and Mr. Happy Face. Benally rescued Mr. Happy Face from Tuba City, and he found fame in June 2022. (Photo/World’s Ugliest Dog)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The year ended on a sad note for Diné musician and activist Jeneda Benally.

On Dec. 20, the bass player with the bands Blackfire, Sihasin and others announced the death of Mr. Happy Face, who was crowned the World’s Ugliest Dog in June 2022 after being adopted by Benally from a Tuba City shelter.

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Mr. Happy Face won the World's Ugliest Dog contest(Photo/World’s Ugliest Dog)

The Chinese Crested/Chihuahua mix — with a drooping tongue and distinctive mohawk — became a symbol of kindness, helping promote the adoptions of older dogs and helping raise funds for the shelter.

Mr. Happy Face died that day at age 19 of complications of old age after spending the last two years of his life as a multimedia celebrity.

“Mr. Happy Face was one of the most beautiful beings I have ever had the privilege of loving,” Benally posted on her Instagram account, mrhappyface_wud. “His life was a celebration of resilience, adorableness and willingness to love.”

Benally appeared on numerous TV shows and in magazines with the dog after he won the Ugly Dog contest in California. She took him on tour with her family band, the Jones Benally Family, which performs traditional Navajo songs and dances, and raised funds for the Tuba City shelter.

“RIP beautiful Mr. Happy Face. You will be missed,” she posted on social media. “Thank you for existing and loving. You were beautifully perfect.”

She indicated she has been working on a children's book about his legacy of "learning to love, finding home and, of course, celebrating the underdog."

Jeneda is the sister of activist and musician Klee Benally, who died Dec. 30.

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