Mugly the Chinese Crested has led an extraordinary life during his 12 years. He came from humble beginnings – abandoned by a breeder at 3 days old, taken in by a nursing mama Shih Tzu at a rescue center, then adopted by Bev Nicholson. The little hairless pooch – described by one reporter as “Yoda’s less attractive younger brother”- has gone on to win the prestigious title of World’s Ugliest Dog, become a devoted therapy dog, and just last week, receive the honor of the 2016 Heroic Hounds award at the National Pet Show in London.
When Bev Nicholson began her search for a dog back in 2004, she thought she’d end up with a “perfectly sweet pooch with fluffy white hair.” However, she just couldn’t seem to form a connection with any of the pups she saw. Then one day a friend sent her a photo of a skinny, hairless pup that had been abandoned at a rescue center in Wales. The tiny, pitiful creature was barely surviving thanks to the maternal instincts of a Shih Tzu who had allowed him to feed along with her own pups.
My friend saw the strange-looking puppy at the rescue center and sent me his photograph as a joke – texting: ‘Ha ha I’ve found the dog for you!’ But as soon as I saw the tiny bald face on my phone, my heart lurched. 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 skinny pup was tougher than he looked, and eventually he grew strong enough to be sent by train to London to meet his new owner. Nicholson took one look at the pup’s crooked teeth and beady eyes and fell instantly in love. She named him Mugly – the perfect mix of Mutt and Ugly. For the next 6, years Mugly was just your average family pet.
In 2010 Nicholson’s son endured 13 hour life-saving brain surgery. During his recovery, Mugly refused to leave the boy’s side. Nicholson told the Washington Post:
I realized then that Mugly may be ugly on the outside, but underneath the spots and warts, he’s really beautiful with a heart of gold.
That was when she realized the potential Mugly had to make a difference in the world. He became certified by the British organization, Therapy Dogs Nationwide, and spent years participating in reading programs for children as well as visiting adults suffering from a variety of physical and mental disabilities.
Nicholson told the Wisbech Standard:
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.
Mugly won Britain’s Ugliest Dog in 2005, and went on to nab the 2012 win for World’s Ugliest Dog against 28 other contenders in Petaluma, California. These events may sound cruel in theory, but they bring awareness to the importance of rescue and adoption. For a dog like Mugly, the fanfare also highlights his great works within his community.
Mugly is now retired from his therapy dog duties, but his legacy of giving has not gone unrecognized. This past weekend at the National Pet Show in London, Mugly received a Heroic Hound Award. He was honored alongside other philanthropic pooches like the famous Doug the Pug.
His title has enabled him to raise thousands of pounds for charities, including: Cinque Ports Rescue, The Chinese Crested Club of GB Rescue, Many Tears, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inspire Peterborough and Feel the Force Day. Not bad for a pooch that began life abandoned and disregarded for his looks!
H/T to The Washington Post
Featured Image via MUGLY/Facebook