When Diann Helmers rescued this Labrador mix, she figured the dog should start her new life with a new name.

The kind of name that makes light of the dog's very, errr.. unique, smile.

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"Her name is Smiley," Helmers tells The Dodo.

Up until then, she was the kind of dog who didn't have a lot of reasons to flash that smile.

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Smiley had been living in a kennel in a backyard in southwest Iowa. When the family moved, they left her there. The new family, unsure of what to do with the dog with the strange smile, kept her around for a while. But after a time, they decided they didn't want her either.

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Helmers, who founded Agape Fosters, heard the dog was being given away for free — and decided to see what was behind that smile.

She found only sweetness.

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"She looks like she's ready to kick your ass," Helmers tells The Dodo. "But she's not like that at all. I have no problem placing her with children.

"I call it her infectious smile because I think it's very endearing."

But, for the last two months, Helmers has been placing ads about the 6-year-old dog on adoption sites without luck.

The trouble is, for Helmers to get Smiley to sit for a picture, she often uses a treat. And when Smiley sees the treat, she can't help but smile that complicated smile.

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Helmers wonders if people who see the ad can get past the grin.

"Of course, people probably see [her picture] and they're like, 'Oh my god' and they don't read the rest of it," she says.

Which is a shame. Because Smiley isn't going to stop being happy anytime soon.

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Helmers, who has long learned not to judge a dog by her smile, is fostering Smiley — and helping her ease some of the anxiousness she understandably arrived with.

There's joy behind those bright white teeth. And also a little uncertainty.

"Some of it might be a little bit nervousness when she first meets people," Helmers says. "But it's in no way, shape or form meanness or aggression with her."

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That nervousness may also be a a bit of a hurdle in finding Smiley's forever home.

"She was really, really anxious down in my building," Helmers explains. "I have to be careful about placing her because of her anxiousness."

As for taking her picture, the trick may be to catch this dog while she's still a little sleepy — before she gets a chance to fire up that million-watt smile.

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Think you might be able to give Smiley another reason to flash that grin — and give her a forever home?

Drop Helmers a line at alterupet@aol.com.

And if you would like to support Agape Fosters and its mission to give animals a real chance in life, consider making a donation here.