stories written or compiled by Loree Walden, Marketing Manager, Yavapai Humane Society
Mr. Happy Face, formerly known as Mathias when he was with us at Yavapai Humane Society (YHS), is a star! From a life most of us could never imagine from a hoarding situation with over 100 other animals to making a huge impact on the world!
We first heard of this hoarding situation in June 2021, and through our partnership with the Prescott Animal Control Department we helped rescue these precious pups and bring them to YHS to start new lives.
Mr. Happy Face was a little guy weighing in at just around 20 pounds and was 17 years old. He had a dry eye on the left side, some lipomas, cysts, he was moving very stiff, had no teeth so his tongue hung out, and had a hacking cough with a mass on his chest.
Our medical staff helped with his eye, cough and the issues we could see, but also checked him for other health issues. Every single staff member loved how happy he was, and after we were cleared by the courts, he was made available for adoption.
On Aug. 21, 2021, Mr. Happy Face’s life changed when he met Jeneda Bennally, who had driven down from Flagstaff to meet the dogs from the hoarding case. She was there to find “one of the hardest to adopt dogs” and give them a loving home.
She met a couple of other Chinese Crested dogs and then Mathias! She learned of all his ailments and his age, and it didn’t matter. He was the ONE!
She says despite all he’d been through, he looked happy and made her smile. That’s when she knew his name was forever going to be, Mr. Happy Face!
She vowed that day that he would be so loved he would never remember how awful his previous life had been.
He quickly became her shadow, following her everywhere; sleeping with her, going for walks (she bought him his very own doggie stroller), and he even has his own wardrobe.
He was having health issues with his joints and coughing, and Jeneda helped him. She has studied traditional Navajo medicine with her father Jones Benally, the first medicine man to work in a hospital, and often works alongside him.
They used traditional Diné (Navajo) musculoskeletal body work to align every bone in his body. He received this treatment and multiple massages daily (and still does) to help keep him healthy and in alignment.
She happened to be in California recording a radio show she’s doing for indigenous youths when she heard about the World’s Ugliest Dog contest. She entered Mr. Happy Face on a whim.
She says he was far too beautiful to ever win an ugliest dog contest, but he did! And a star was born. He won a big trophy, some money which has been donated to his new mission, and even a trip to New York to appear on the Today Show.
He now has his own Instagram account with over 1,000 followers, @mrhappyface_wud and has taken on the new title of “Ambassador of Kindness.” His mission? To help senior dogs and rez dogs find a better life.
Jeneda told me Mr. Happy Face is now providing a platform to bring awareness and a call to action to raise funds for organizations that don’t have resources or accessibility to spay and neuter clinics and vaccines — most of these being on the rez where there is little help for these animals.
Any funds earned for appearances or prize money are donated to Mr. Happy Face’s mission!
Mr. Happy Face recently was featured on an Australian game show and even received a $500 prize being used to spread his message!
Mr. Happy Face currently is touring the country with Jeneda’s band Sihasin, and I encourage you to check out her music as it is truly a spiritual experience.
Jeneda wants to give all animals a better life. She wants to make a difference, and I do believe Mr. Happy Face came into her life to allow her a platform to do exactly that! She said in an ICT Newscast: “This is about respecting elders and adopting old dogs.”
Respecting our elders and those who came before us — we can never repay the debt, or can we, with this precious soul?
Mr. Happy Face has brought endless smiles to people worldwide! Who would’ve ever thought this poor abused animal who came to Yavapai Humane Society would end up being the face of his own campaign, “Create Kindness”?
Jeneda says she loves seeing how much joy his happy face brings to people — the simple act of seeing a happy dog, making such a difference in our lives!
Mr. Happy Face has no idea he’s the World’s Ugliest Dog (Jeneda doesn’t let him hear those words). He only knows a love like he’s never known in his 18 years of life because of Jeneda.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be like Mr. Happy Face? And wouldn’t it be nice to be more like Jeneda? To not look at appearance, age, or health issues — to just see a living being that makes you smile, brings you joy and changes your life.
Senior dogs, dogs with health issues, dogs of specific breed, dogs that aren’t cute are overlooked every day in shelters across the country including Yavapai Humane Society. But you never know what will happen when you give an animal a chance at a new life, no matter how long it may be. You never know the change it will make in both of your lives, because you both need each other more than you could ever know.
Sometimes these precious angels come into our lives to make a difference, and Mr. Happy Face, you have made a difference in the world you will never know, but we thank you and we love you.
Mr. Happy Face, you may be the World’s Ugliest Dog but, in our hearts, you are BEAUTIFUL!