Hero Dog Awards ready to “make America growl again” Oct. 28 on the Hallmark Channel

Hero dog Mango

Hero dog Mango

Tune in the 2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards tonight, October 28, on the Hallmark Channel. It’s the most heartwarming awards show in Hollywood where every candidate is a winner and ready to “make America growl again.”

Heroes on both ends of the leash are being honored at this year’s sixth annual celebration. Eight awesome K-9 finalists are in the spotlight, along with a Hero Veterinarian, Dr. Natalie Isaza, and a Hero Veterinary Technician, Kim Knap. Of course, there’s a crowd of puppy-loving celebrities and VIPs at the awards gala, which was filmed September 10th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills for the family and pet-friendly Hallmark Channel.

“We’re here to make America growl again. And isn’t it nice that you can support all the candidates that are running for top dog,” said James Denton (hunky leading man in Desperate Housewives and Hallmark Channel’s Good Witch), who co-hosts the awards with author and animal advocate Beth Stern (Kitten Bowl). Denton added that three of the eight finalists were rescued from shelters, and that is where everyone can find their new best friend.

Actress-singer Katharine McPhee (Scorpion, American Idol) gives a crowd-pleasing performance with three songs in tribute to all dogs—“Over the Rainbow,” “That’s Life,” and a heart-tugging song from the musical Lucky Stiff. She cuddled two little pooches as she sang the lyrics, “At times like this a girl could use a dog.”

“Katharine’s love of dogs makes her the perfect fit as this year’s headlining musical act,” said Michelle Vicary, Executive VP, Programming & Network Publicity, Crown Media Family Networks. “She joins a terrific roster of talent celebrating this year’s amazing Hero Dogs.”

Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, reported, “The participation of these compassionate celebrities will help bring even more attention to the extraordinary ways that dogs enrich our lives.” Among the presenters were NCIS star Pauley Perrette, Bailee Madison from Good Witch, Alison Sweeney (Murder, She Baked), Mark Steines, Debbie Matenopoulos, Barbara Niven, Dave Foley, Adam Rodriguez and more. Marilu Henner from Taxi and Hallmark’s Aurora Teasgarden Mystery movies, took time out from rehearsals for this season’s Dancing With The Stars to support the Guide/Hearing Dog category.

Hero dog Mango with Judy Walter (photo by Margie Barron)

Hero dog Mango with Judy Walter (photo by Margie Barron)

Also on hand was dance pro Kym Johnson who fell in love with Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavac when they were partners on Dancing With The Stars last year. The newlyweds revealed they cut their honeymoon short so they could attend the awards and present the honor in the Emerging Hero Dog category to Hooch, who won the overall title of 2016 Hero Dog.

Nominated by his charity partner Pets for Patriots, Hooch is a French Mastiff with a broken tail, no tongue and the brightest spirit. Hooch stands for overcoming adversity, bravery and living in the moment. He spends many hours with Marley’s Miracle Mutts division working with autistic, abused and special needs children. Hooch is known for showing patience and kindness and is proof that anything can be overcome.

Another extraordinary dog is the frisky wheelchair-riding Mango, nominated in the Therapy Dog category. Hit by a car, she was paralyzed and scheduled to be euthanized. But she got a second chance thanks to Emma’s Chihuahua Rescue and nursed back to health by retired Army veteran Judy Walter. Mango works with disabled Veterans showing them that if a small dog in a wheelchair can overcome her handicap, maybe they can too.

Arson Hero dog Judge with Fire Chief Lee Laubach and Margie Barron

Arson Hero dog Judge with Fire Chief Lee Laubach and Margie Barron

In addition to Hooch and Mango, the other dogs honored in eight categories were: Search & Rescue—Kobuk; Military—Layka; Law Enforcement—K-9 Edo; Arson—Judge; Guide/Hearing—Hook; and Service—Gander. All dogs got standing ovations as they trotted out and their life-changing stories and achievements were told.

The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation has sponsored the gala event for the past six years because founder Lois Pope explained, “The Hero Dog Awards shine a spotlight on our canine companions and the countless ways they enrich, protect, and save lives every day.”

Yes, the real stars of the night are the dogs. Tune in the Hallmark Channel.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.