Honoring the very best of our “best friends,” the Hero Dog Awards was an event attended by lots of celebrities. But the real stars of the show were the eight extraordinary dogs, Gabe, Jynx, Soot, Holly, Tatiana, Daniel, Tabitha and Stella, who took center stage.
The perfect host for the show was Kristin Chenoweth, with her frisky puppy personality. She’s a longtime animal advocate, as is Jewel, the musical star who entertained the crowd, and got the dogs howling in the audience.
The tail-wagging affair was filmed for a Hallmark Channel special, The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, premiering Nov. 8. Along with the pooches the incomparable 90-year-old Betty White was a special honoree, who loved the funny video tribute from her good friend Burt Reynolds. Truer words were never spoken when he said, “There’s nobody who doesn’t like Betty White. She’s just about perfect.”
Joey Lawrence was the red carpet host, along with the Labrador guide dog Atticus, who was the red carpet grand marshal. Yes, the dogs strutted the red carpet alongside the stars, with the biggest cheers going for Gabe, a military dog who represented the U.S. War Dog Association, and his owner-handler-best friend Sgt. First Class Charles Shuck.
Sgt. Shuck proudly reported that Gabe is a vetern of more than 200 combat missions in Iraq, sniffing out weapons and explosive devises. When he wasn’t helping to keep soldiers safe, Gabe was halping to comfort them, visiting wounded troops in Army hospitals.
Among the famous animal-loving presenters and guests at the awards were Naomi Judd, Pauley Perrette, Denise Richards, Michael Vartan, Bailee Madison, Jake T. Austin, Lisa Vanderpump, John Paul DeJoria, Megyn Price, Kate Linder, Candy Spelling, and Ken Howard.
Also happy to be part of the event was Kellie Martin who did the romantic comedy I Married Who? for Hallmark (Oct. 20 premiere). And Mark Steines, who hosts Home & Family, Hallmark’s new lifestyle series, has already had some of the hero dogs as guests on the daytime show.
Judging to select the Hero Dog finalists came from a panel of celebrities, animal experts and online voting. One judge was Michael Hingson, the bestselling author and blind 9/11 survivor whose guide dog Roselle led him and others out of the World Trade Center. Roselle was named the top dog last year.
Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, is the dedicated force behind the Hero Dog Awards. Lois Pope of the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation was praised for her support of AHA’s efforts, as was Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, for broadcasting the awards on Hallmark as part of their Pet Project campaign.