This awards show has the usual — red carpet, stars and a glamorous Beverly Hills setting. But it's also one of the few where people know who won before it airs, and no one bothers whispering that some honorees are bitches.
Hallmark Channel's American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, airing at 7 p.m. Thursday, were held Oct. 6 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, with Oklahoma actress Kristin Chenoweth hosting.
“I have always been a fan of Hallmark TV movies,” Chenoweth says. “I grew up watching them, but this is a Hallmark movie that is real life. It celebrates our beloved animals, who go above and beyond what they are called to do.”
Chenoweth brought her Maltese, Madeline Kahn Chenoweth, to the awards, but she says the night's big winner, Gabe, a yellow Lab, was better behaved. Though Chenoweth has hosted other shows, being center stage at such an event has its challenges.
“It is very nerve-racking because you are obviously not hiding behind a role,” says the actress, who has won a Tony and starred most recently in the short-lived “GCB.” “It is really fun to shoot something when you believe in it so much. It is scary because you are hosting an evening, and your job is to keep it going.”
The stories focus on the dogs, which won in various categories after the public voted. Gabe completed 210 missions in Iraq. His handler, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Shuck, began working with Gabe in 2006 when he was told to report to the pound and pick one of two dogs.
In addition to Gabe, who took the military dog category, Daniel of Nutley, N.J., won as emerging hero. A stray beagle, he miraculously survived a gas chamber in Alabama. He and his owner, Joe Dawyer, campaign against gassing animals.
Tabitha of South Bend, Ind., won in the guide dog category. Tabitha helped Ann Drake, who lost her sight as an adult, regain her confidence. She went on to complete her undergraduate and graduate studies.
The law enforcement dog winner is Jynx of Shillington, Pa. Jynx tried to pull his handler, Sgt. Kyle Pagerly, and another officer to safety when a criminal shot at them. Pagerly was killed, but had Jynx not reacted as he did, more police would have died that night.
Tatiana II of Plantation, Fla., won in the hearing dog category for alerting the family of her handler, Cristina Saint-Blancard, that the woman had stopped breathing. And Soot took the search and rescue category after the Charleston, W.Va., dog rescued a 78-year-old diabetic hunter who was lost in the wilderness.