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, don’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 Channel’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 America’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 (It’s Me or the Dog) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood). Whoopi Goldberg, Kristin Chenoweth and Jillian Michaels are judges.
“I just love dogs and all they do for people,” White says. “When 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 — as part of a 10-year tribute — 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.”
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