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Pets put their funniest faces forward for a one-of-a-kind competition

Lindsay Keeler, AOL.com

Comedy comes in many forms -- and in this case, it's our four-legged friends that are teaching us a thing or two about enjoying the happier things life has to offer.

The Comedy Pet Photography Awards are the brainchild of photographers Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam. This was the first year for the competition and Joynson-Hicks says the response was overwhelming. The duo received more than 2,500 entries from 72 different countries.  

A panel of judges, including professional photographers, wildlife experts, a veterinary surgeon and of course pet owners focused on two aspects when tasked with the tough job of picking winners -- the quality of the photo and how funny it actually was.

Just like the Emmys, Oscars or Grammys, the awards are broken down into categories where people vie for the coveted titles of "Overall Winner," "Gone to the Dogs," and "Pets Who Look Like Their Owners." We had to ask about that last category and if they had a theory for the phenomenon surrounding it.

"That I have no idea, there must be some subconscious thing when you buy a pet that its features or characteristics reflect yours, who knows," Joynson-Hicks said.

The winners were recently announced and they include a prancing horse with a mane that would make many people envious, a wide-eyed dog mesmerized by a bubble and a woman-horse team that both put their best smiles forward.

Along with brightening people's spirits and garnering laughs, the awards also help shed light on pet welfare issues.

"The most important thing for us is that people are made aware that pet welfare and domestic animal welfare is an important issue and that we can approach it with humour and from a positive angle," Joynson-Hicks said. They used the awards as an opportunity to partner with and raise money for several organizations including the Animal Welfare Foundation in the UK and The Humane Society of the United States.

Organizers hope this year's competition was the first of many, but until then you can look forward to their other project, the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards -- because who doesn't need a little light-hearted reminder to enjoy life's everyday moments.

(Bubble Surprise by Connie Fore) 

(Look At Me by Nando Harmsen)

(Photo by Georgie Bain)