All dogs are beautiful in their own way and deserve love, but sometimes “ugly” dogs get ignored. This is a problem for many shelter dogs looking for homes: they are too often passed over in favor of more traditionally cute pets.

That was the case for one poor dog, who was often called “ugly” and constantly overlooked because of her appearance — until she finally found a family who loves her.

In December, Orange County Animal Services shared a Facebook post about one of their dogs, Dutchess, who was surrendered to their care last year due to a landlord issue.

Dutchess had a “slight deformity” under both her eyes, which while noticeable did not otherwise affect her health. However, it was still too much for many people to look past.

The shelter wrote that people visiting the shelters constantly passed over Dutchess because of the way she looks. They would make comments saying that she “looks so ugly” and ask “what’s wrong with her,” wondering if she was blind — even though there was nothing wrong with her and she had so much love to give.

“The heartbreaking part is that Dutchess absolutely adores everyone,” Orange County Animal Services wrote. “She runs up to the kennel doors every day, excited for the new day, relentlessly optimistic. For her, each day brings new people, and with that, new hope for adoption. Dutchess doesn’t know a bad day.”

While no one seemed interested in adopting poor Dutchess, the rescue did not give up hope. They described her as “gentle, sweet, energetic and extremely intelligent” — and even a role model for their other dogs.

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“She is so even keeled, our behaviorists use her in play groups to control the other dogs, to calm them, to teach them. She is well behaved, easy to train, and gets along with every dog she meets. We think she is beautiful.”

Thankfully, Dutchess’ sad life in the shelter soon came to an end: Rescue Dogs Dream Inc. took her in and placed her in a foster home. The rescue wrote that Dutchess was “doing great and is so happy to be FREE” and scarfed down a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

Dutchess’ life quickly turned around: Rescue Dogs Dream announced on December 21 that after many adoption requests came in for her, Dutchess had been “pre adopted” by a loving family: “She will have a new Mom and Dad that treat their pups like kids,” the rescue wrote.

Vets also determined that Dutchess’ eye growths were uncomfortable for her and in her sightline, so the rescue made an appointment to have them surgically removed. The growths were believed to be dermoids, a rare type of skin cyst.

The surgery was a success — and shortly after recovering Dutchess was finally off to her new forever home.

Dutchess has been renamed “Lena,” and on March 18 the rescue shared an update, saying that Lena has settled in well in her new home. She recently graduated level one in her doggie training classes.

“Everything is going well!” the owner said, per Rescue Dogs Dream, Inc. “She’s so sweet, just loves to play and be around us all the time. She’s still a counter surfer and has helped herself to some sticks of butter and cheeseburgers from the grill but we’re working on that… She is a wonderful girl and we love her so much!!”

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It’s a sweet happily ever after for a dog who so many people ignored just because of the way she looks. There are so many dogs like Dutchess/Lena out there, and Orange County Animal Services urged people to give them consideration.

“Come to the shelter with an open heart,” they wrote on Facebook. “Look inside every kennel. Look for Dutchess. Look for the ones no one wants.”

“That’s how you save a life. That’s how you make a difference. That’s how you change the world, for one.”

We’re so glad Dutchess/Lena has found the loving home she deserves! Some shelter dogs look a little different, but they deserve a chance, too.

Please share this heartwarming news!