By Jacqueline Cutler
When an earthquake leaves shards of buildings in its path, or a wildfire tears through a neighborhood and only hulks of dryers and chimneys still stand, or when a blind or deaf person needs to be steered toward safety, dogs come to the rescue.
Please, cat fanciers, donâ€™t start the usual protest. Dogs are heroes. Not all dogs, just like not all humans, qualify as heroic. But the dogs celebrated on Hallmark Channelâ€™s American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards (Friday, Nov. 11, at 8pm ET) at are magnificent examples.
The 90-minute special, hosted by Carson Kressley, features Americaâ€™s top dogs walking down a red carpet at a Beverly Hills gala event recorded on Oct. 1. Presenters include Betty White, Hayden Panettiere, Michael Vartan, Victoria Stilwell (Itâ€™s Me or the Dog) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood). Whoopi Goldberg, Kristin Chenoweth and Jillian Michaels are judges.
â€śI just love dogs and all they do for people,â€ť White says. â€śWhen I learned that the American Humane Association was honoring hero dogs and that I could share the stage with Roselle, the guide dog who led her blind master down 1,463 stairs to survival just before the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001 â€” as part of a 10-year tribute â€” I just knew I had to be part of this incredible celebration. I am so happy to be a presenter for the first ever Hero Dog Awards.â€ť
The hero dogs are broken into eight categories: law enforcement and arson, service, therapy, military, guide, search and rescue, hearing, and emerging hero dogs. The latter are the snore-at-your-feet type but show their heroic streak when committing acts of bravery.
Each winner has his or her story told in a video tribute. Mickey Rooney narrates a tribute to famous movie dog Rin Tin Tin, whose lookalike descendant attended the awards.
Photo: Credit: Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging