A few years ago, I went to visit an old friend whom I hadn’t seen since high school. He and his wife had recently welcomed their first baby boy into the world. I couldn’t wait to meet the little one. When I arrived, I was shocked at how wonderful they looked. He and his wife were in great shape, healthy, tanned and appeared surprisingly rested for being new parents. Their new son, now a toddler, had blonde curly hair, big green eyes and a smile that could light up the world. When I drove up and saw them waving at me from behind their white picket fence wearing their Sunday best, it reminded me of something out of Pleasantville. Little did I know that not every member of this family was blessed with good looks. As we walked in through the front door, I was trampled by one of the ugliest dogs I have ever seen in my life. Besides the patchy hair loss and missing leg, it also had its tongue permanently sticking out of the left side of its mouth thanks to a couple of missing teeth. It looked like a mix between a really old Chinese Crested and Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and sounded like it had a bad case of laryngitis. “My goodness,” I thought to myself, “this dog got a pretty rotten deal.” My friends noticed my shock and asked if I was OK. I told them their dog took me by surprise. My friend’s response: “Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you, we inherited ‘Princess’ from my grandma when she passed away last year.” Princess?! Oh my. I crouched down and pet the poor thing on the head. It blinked its big watery eyes like Yoda. In the end, I spent 5 hours with them that day. And here’s the thing: Princess turned out to be the sweetest animal I’ve ever encountered. She was playful, loving and very well-behaved. The moral of the story: I judged this poor innocent soul based on her exterior. Next time you see something ugly, give it a second…you may be surprised at how beautiful it really is. Jorge Arauz | Editor-in-Chief; 305.401.3232; Editor@KeyBiscayneMag.com.