The third annual Hero Dog Awards presented by the American Humane Association event was taped for a TV special on the family and dog friendly Hallmark Channel. It premieres Oct. 30 as part of the network’s Pet Project dedicated to animal advocacy.
“We hope you will tune to watch the stories of these amazing canines. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You don’t want to miss it,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president of the American Humane Association.
It’s true, there were laughs, but by the end of the awards there wasn’t a dry eye in the Beverly Hilton ballroom, as the star-studded audience got to know the amazing dogs that trotted across the stage and their incredible achievements.
Spoiler alert: a special pit bull was named “top dog,” Elle is a therapy dog who helps teach children about dog safety, reading, and overcoming prejudice. Elle breaks the pit bull stereotype, having been raised with love and affection, returning it tenfold thanks to her human companion Leah Brewer.
Elle had amazing competition in eight categories: Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Service Dogs, Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Hearing Dogs, and Emerging Hero Dogs. All were true winners.
Joey Lawrence was host of the show, great as always, as were the celebrity presenters Betty White, Pauley Perrette, Naomi Judd, Lori Loughlin, Daphne Zuniga, Esai Morales, Lauren Potter, Bailee Madison, Danielle Fishell, Ryan O’Neal, and many more.
The ultra-fabulous Las Vegas entertainer Frankie Moreno performed giving the evening an exciting vibe that had the audience howling—the people, not the dogs!
Howling with laughter was everyone who attended the Actors & Others for Animals’ luncheon which had the theme “Best In Show” with a pet competition. The funny lady with the biggest heart in Hollywood, the high-energy A&O’s president JoAnne Worley (Laugh-In icon) said she didn’t enter her beloved dog Harmony, “because she’d win, and it would look like I fixed the contest.”
Even without Harmony the contest was a highlight, with celebrities showing videos of their cats and dogs while Fred Willard and Jim Piddock comically critiqued the presentation ala their roles in the unforgettable “Best in Show” film. Mike Burger emceed, and guests Tippi Hedren, Susan Sullivan, Ed Begley, Jr., Leonard Maltin, Chuck McCann, Allie MacKay, Jay Johnson, and Ruta Lee shared moments with their lovable pets.
Winning the “Best in Show” title was agent Bernie Shine’s funny video of his dog flossing his teeth! More serious was Loretta Swit’s presentation to the Search Dog Foundation. The awesome search dog Hunter (with help from Billy Monahan) was on hand to accept the Betty White Inspiration Award.
The Award of Caring was awarded to Kathleen Riordan and Bonnie Garner for their work in protecting companion animals. Also attending were Mary Willard (event chair), Charlotte Rae, Jackie Joseph and A&O’s president emeritus Earl Holliman.
Another highlight of the event was a performance by “The Plaids,” a great foursome singing harmonies that wowed the crowd with music from the “Forever Plaid” repertoire. One of the ultra-talented fellows Scott Dreier said, “All of The Plaids are animal lovers, and we’re proud to support Actors & Others and what they do to help our sweet four legged friends.” Bless them.
In other doggie news, the acclaimed NBC drama Chicago Fire wanted to honor firehouse dogs and had fire stations across America submit essays about their special dogs and why they deserved to be recognized. The winner is Smokey, a Labrador mix from Illinois who had been rescued from a burning building. Now Smokey helps firefighters teach kids to “stop, drop and roll,” and will have a cameo appearance on Chicago Fire. Lucky dog! #