PHOTOS: Meet Martha, World's Ugliest Dog
You could say Martha is a rather cheeky gal.
That is, the jowly 3-year-old Neapolitan mastiff has some remarkably expansive cheeks — so expansive, in fact, they droop practically to her knees and flap like slobbery wings when she shakes her head.
And now they've earned Martha a prestigious honor: the title of world's ugliest dog.
Martha won the World's Ugliest Dog Contest in Petaluma, Calif., beating out 13 other very homely pups to claim the crown on Friday. Besides the honor of the title, Martha also gets a trophy, a $1,500 prize and a flight to New York City for "media appearances," according to contest organizers.
In winning, Martha also earned another — one might say greater — honor: her place enshrined on an illustrious list of champions that dates back nearly three decades.
"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," says Erin Post, CEO of the Sonoma-Marin Fair, where the contest is held.
Martha hasn't always been showered with laurels. In fact, as The Associated Press reports, the 125-pound giant has overcome some desperate straits:
"The dog, from nearby Sebastopol, was rescued when she was nearly blind from neglect by the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project in Sonoma County, where the contest was held. After several surgeries, she can now see again, [handler Shirley] Zindler said."
Some took umbrage with the word "ugly" in Martha's title — she's "stunning," at least according to one prominent onlooker.
But it was clear from the start that Martha bore the easy confidence of a champion.
The wire service says the judges and the crowd fell immediately in love with her lumbering charms — even if she was a little less than impressed with them, "often plopping down on her side on stage with her droopy face spread across the ground when she was supposed to be showing off."
Don't let Martha's lackadaisical confidence fool you, though: The greats often make it look easy, no matter how tough the competition.
And the competition was indeed formidable — as you can see below.