The fourth annual Hero Dog Awards is a tail-wagging celebration of man’s best friend, airing as a Hallmark Channel special October 30. It’s part of the network’s wonderful family (and dog) friendly programing. The delightful hosts for the show are James Denton (of Desperate Housewives fame) and actress/animal advocate Beth Stern. Beth said she left her husband Howard Stern home assigned to “kitten duty, because there’s a lot to do with over a dozen kittens, fostering them until we can find them good homes.”
Also showing the love they have for their pets were Chynna Phillips, and sisters Carnie and Wendy Wilson from the acclaimed group Wilson Phillips. They performed a trio of songs, and during the classic Beach Boys hit “God Only Knows (what I’d do without you)” a montage of their beloved puppies romping with the gals was seen. Chynna’s mom Michelle Phillips (The Mamas & the Papas legend) was there teary-eyed.
“Tonight we celebrate man’s best friend with stories of compassion, caring and hope in an event that uniquely focuses on the power of the human-animal bond,” announced Dr. Robin Ganzert, president of the American Humane Association which presented the event with the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation. President and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks, Bill Abbott stated he was proud that the Hallmark Channel was putting the spotlight on the hero dogs for the fourth year.
Pauley Perrette (NCIS star and devoted animal advocate), Marlee Matlin, Kellie Martin, Lacey Chabert, Larry Miller, Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven, Cristina Ferrare, Mark Steines, Charlotte Ross, Lori Loughlin, Bailee Madison, Lisa Vanderpump, and Ashlan and Phillippe Cousteau, Jr. were among the celebrities on hand to present the awards and enjoy the show, but the real stars of the night were the dogs. Their life-changing stories were told, and by the end of the awards there wasn’t a dry eye in the Beverly Hilton ballroom.
Nearly two million people voted for dogs from across the country to represent their category. The competition had eight categories: Guide/Hearing Dog—Xxon; Search and Rescue Dog—Bretagne; Law Enforcement Dog—Kota; Military Dog—Chaney; Arson Dog—Kai; Therapy Dog—Susie; Service Dog—JJ Krawczyk; and Emerging Hero Dog—Xena the Warrior Puppy. All were true winners, but the one who was named “Top Dog,” Susie the Therapy Dog had one of the most incredible tales to tell involving abuse, rescue and redemption.
All dogs got standing ovations as they were trotted out and their stories and achievements were told, but it seemed the loudest cheers were for the last surviving Search and Rescue Dog from 9-11 Bretagne, a true super-hero dog.
For K-9 Kai, the San Antonio Arson Bureau dog, it was a family affair with his handler EMT Davis and his wife and kids enjoying the celebration. Davis told me, “Kai was rescued from a shelter, and because of her nose for finding things she was trained in accelerant detection. Kai has been part of over 200 investigations and helps keep our community safe. She also goes around teaching kids about fire safety.”
It’s interesting to note that most of the dog-honorees were rescued from shelters and now they are living in the spotlight on the Hero Dog Awards. Tune in Oct. 30 on the Hallmark Channel. #