Since then, Martha, who is three and a half years old, has been spayed and has undergone two eye surgeries and stomach surgery. Post-surgery, Martha’s eyes remained red and droopy, and she can’t see out of one of them.
Yet despite her hardships and imperfections, Martha was an endearing “gentle giant,” Mrs. Zindler said. At night, Martha snores so loudly that she isn’t allowed to sleep in Mrs. Zindler’s bedroom. When Martha is not asleep — as she is most of the day — she playfully bosses around the other dogs Mrs. Zindler fosters.
“The first time I saw her, I had to laugh,” said Janet Palma, a Dogwood board member. “Her huge feet, the baggy skin on her legs, the floppy skin over her eyes. She’s just darling.”
Shortly after her rescue, Martha found a suitor in Ms. Burkard, who reached out to Dogwood via Facebook. Two of her St. Bernards had died, and her third, Blue, needed a friend.
She told Mrs. Zindler that she could offer Martha 11 acres at her family’s home, where Martha could befriend Blue, explore the banks of a lake and rest underneath apricot and cherry trees.
“She’s going to fit right in,” Ms. Burkard thought. Mrs. Zindler agreed, and the adoption was set to go.
Then, last week, Mrs. Zindler called Ms. Burkard. The local fair was having a “World’s Ugliest Dog” contest, and although the two women found the dog gorgeous, they thought maybe Martha’s endearing imperfections could make her a winner. The contest, Mrs. Zindler said, promotes the adoption of dogs that often get left on the streets or in shelters.
For the competition on Friday, Martha slowly climbed onto the stage, plopped down and napped. She snored while the crowd cheered, and the judges named her the World’s Ugliest Dog.
“Does Martha know she’s that ugly?” an announcer said.
“No,” Mrs. Zindler said. “Martha thinks she’s beautiful. We tell her every day.”